The “dark web” is a hidden corner of the internet that is the home to many things people want to keep in the shadows: drugs, counterfeits, stolen items, and so on. But there are also far stranger elements.
A popular thread on Reddit once asked the simple question, “What’s your Deep Web story?” In other words, the Reddit user was asking people to share any weird experiences they had encountered while using anonymous web services to access secret websites.
Services like Tor, which mask a user’s identity and let them browse the internet anonymously, give access to a slew of websites known as the Dark Web (or Deep Web). These sites won’t work on a “normal” web browser like Google Chrome. Silk Road is the prototypical example of a Dark Web site, a now-closed black market for goods, whose notorious founder is now in prison.
Silk Road is closed, but what else is out there? Here are some of the bizarre and creepy things you can stumble on when accessing the dark underbellies of the web, as told by the people who actually experienced them.
The post is based on a previous post by Cale Guthrie Weissman.
One of the main reasons people use the Dark Web is to buy goods they want to keep hidden. But how weird do these get? Some users have some pretty bizarre tales ...
Sometimes you can find the everyday things on the Dark Web. But what makes it 'illicit' is how you market it. Take this (very gross) example of something for sale on Silk Road:
DIY vasectomy kit on SR. it was a kit of weird dentist tool looking hooks and some tube thing. $20.
Sometimes you may need something specific and you have nowhere else to turn. If that's the case watch out for a steep price tag. This Redditor explains:
A few years ago I went searching for rhino horn for a story, one guy said he had a couple of whole horns he'd sell for six figures. I had to pass.
One person found a 'wish pill.' Here's the description:
Basically you take the pill, make a wish and it's suppose to make it come true. It just made me laugh how much they were trying to sell it off as something real, they made up fake elements that were supposedly found in nature and showed videos of them 'making the pill' (Which was really just a bunch of blue lights being flashed at the screen).
They were selling it for a $100 a pill, sad thing is there were probably a few idiots who actually bought it.
Surprises are often in store. And so are vendors with senses of humour. As is showcased with this story:
Silk Road. Circa 2013. Purchased what was promised as a 'mind-blowing' experience. Received a Dust Buster two days later. Strangely, no complaints on my end.
You can buy all sorts of counterfeit credentials, spanning from passports and degrees to logins for accounts like Netflix and Hulu.
One Redditor 'found counterfeit medical degrees. Considered buying one for 999 bitcoin. Realised that was over $50,000 dollars.'
Even if you're using Tor, you can still be tracked. At least, that's what one Redditor says. The story:
I posted a comment on a video, and when I went back to that page to watch the video later, someone replied to my comment saying: 'That is very astute of you Mr. (insert my last name)'
I didn't internet for like a week. my last name is not a common one.
A Redditor writes this creepy tale about using the internet before Google. The user was following the online trail of a site he or she found. Then he or she found a document made just for the user, making it known that the Redditor was not alone. 'We see you,' the message wrote.
The whole story goes that the user came upon a random page of what seemed to be 'random thoughts from different people.' So the Redditor decided to press further. Looking through the source, compiling the IP addresses of all the comments, this user was trying to figure out what connected the people on this site.
Then, something creepy happened:
I finally came upon a web server with a huge directory of HTML files and TIFF images, with a few smaller sub directories containing the same. nslookup returned no reverse records for the IP. A VisualRoute traced it as far as Colorado. The HTML files appeared to be records a psychologist or similar mental health professional would keep. The images were of faxes, apparently of both military and medical nature.
As I browsed from a sub directory back to the parent, at the top of was a new HTML file named something like '1-.HELLO-THERE.html'. The time stamp was from right that minute. I opened it, and in plain text was the message 'we see you'. No quotes, all lower-case. About 15 seconds later the server dropped.
One user was playing what was called an Alternate Reality Game. This game, 'No Love Deep Web,' had users accessing Tor to hunt for various things.
This user got engrossed in the game. It ended with 'me driving to New York to answer a pay phone at 3:00AM. That was cool.'
Sometimes you find weird forums. Take this user's example:
I once found a forum dedicated to sharing recordings of the automated messages that tell you the next stop on trains. People would post the recordings that they presumably made themselves and then they would discuss them.
It haunts me to this day. I have so many questions.
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