It should come as no surprise that the dark web (and not just Tor) has its fair share of social networks and forums. Nonetheless, in this post, I’ll be primarily talking about Tor social networks. (These are sometimes referred to as “shadow social networks.”)
In my experience thus far, I’ve been a member of three different social networks (in the Facebook sense) on the dark web (i.e. Tor, I2P, and Freenet). While I have made some casual friends through them, so far I haven’t had any real deep connections (no pun intended).
I also have explored a number of dark web forums and chat rooms, some of which have featured disturbing content, and others which have seemed relatively mundane. Ironically, even on the clearnet, you’ll find material like this, and occasionally, it’ll be worse than what’s on the dark web (go figure).
The first social network I explored is called Blackbook, which can be found here, if you’re really interested: Blackbook – the Facebook of Tor.
Its layout is loosely based on Facebook, although you may immediately notice some differences once you actually access it. As with Facebook, there are ads on the sidebar, but in the case of Blackbook, most of them are for darknet markets or skimmed credit cards (and that sort of thing).
Also, like the aforementioned social network, you can create a personalized profile, list your interests, join groups, start drama, etc. Really, the major difference is the content that’s featured on people’s profiles and in some of the discussions. If the same things were present on Facebook, they would likely create some uproar; would you try to sell coke to your mom on Facebook? (Well, maybe some would…idk.)
While it’s highly unlikely that someone would be posting fully nude pictures on Facebook and sharing them on the news feed, that’s par for the course on Blackbook. (Not that I mind much…) You’ll also tend to meet a different sort of people on this network.
There are a lot of hackers, darknet market vendors, and assassins as well – at least I’ve met a few people who say that they are. I’d rather not question their authenticity.
Beyond that, though, almost no one uses their real name on Blackbook (and that pretty much goes for the dark web as a whole). Fake photos are used a lot too – some users have drawings of themselves, while the hackers sometimes use pictures like the V for Vendetta mask, or just something that represents the idea of hacking.
And I’ve even seen some fellow bronies, albeit more on the creepy side of things:
As for identity, I’ve used various randomly generated pseudonyms; remember the nonsense word generators I mentioned earlier? Here they are again, if you ever need them: Soybomb nonsense word generator and Fake Word Generator For Great Made-Up Words. This one’s good too: SpinXO Username Generator.
I understand how this might be off-putting to some of my friends on the clearnet, but I actually like my Blackbook friends, and have found them to be cool. I’ve even learned a few things from the hacker groups, believe it or not. As a matter of fact, I just may share this post with them – although they may find out my true identity…shit.
Guardians of the Galaxy2
Admit it, you were waiting for a Groot joke…well, you’re not getting…
No, I was referring to this – one of the more popular social networks called Galaxy2, an Elgg-based site also hosted on the Tor network. According to The Social Media Alternatives Project, its creator, Lameth, started it in early January 2015. It’s a “sequel,” so to speak, to the original Galaxy site which shut down sometime in 2014.
Like the original Galaxy, it offers things like The Wire (microblogging), groups, blogs, polls and pages (not unlike Facebook). It’s similar to Blackbook in that it’s relatively censorship-free, but as the rules above say, child pornography is not allowed. Also differentiating it from Blackbook is the fact that commercial trade is forbidden (in other words, you won’t see ads for darknet markets, etc.)
Oddly enough, its design also looks a bit more professional – this may be because there’s a larger team of people working on it, or that it just gets updated more regularly:
Of note: Galaxy2 recently experienced a huge influx of users after another hacking-themed social network (created, oddly enough, using WordPress) shut down. And judging from the drama on the news feed, some of the longtime Galaxy members were not happy about the newcomers.
What, did you think the dark web was drama-free? It has people on it!
Bad Forum…Bad Forum Indeed
Picture courtesy of VICE – Motherboard
Just as on the clearnet, the dark web has its fair share of forums. In a previous post, I had mentioned the highly disturbing forum Scream, Bitch!
Yeah, that one. They’re not all like that, but you may have to search a bit to find some that aren’t promoting the sick shit.
You may have heard of the “Hell” site before – it’s actually an infamous hacking forum. In this writer’s humble opinion, Hell is one of the less unnerving forums that can be found on Tor, despite the fact that it’s a site for sharing stolen data and hacking advice. If you really want to visit it, here’s the URL: Hell.
You do realize I’m giving you the URL just so you can say this, right?
I also happened to come across a forum by the name of Suicide Apartment, which, from what I gather, is a closed forum for people who want to commit suicide (or are at least considering it).
In order to actually log into the forum, however, you need a voucher from an existing member (there are a number of forums like this on the dark web, in fact). Presumably, this is for privacy reasons.
Well, since these people wanted to commit suicide, I decided I wouldn’t hang around.
There are, for better or worse, much more disturbing forums than these that I’ve come across, or at least heard about on other people’s pages.
For me, particularly, animal cruelty sites are some of the worst, because I really love animals so much. Those, and anything in which children are being exploited. Thankfully (from my perspective), some of these sites are not up anymore, or at least not at the URLs where they were originally found.
But if that’s what you were hoping for, don’t worry, readers! I have much more disturbing content simmering in my “research folder”…