Over the past few days, I’ve been reading various posts on the Internet about what is referred to as the “deep Web,” and I’ve found it fascinating. It seems you can find almost anything on the Deep Web, including assassins for hire, child pornography (sickeningly), secret documents, research information that’s publicly available but not necessarily formatted for public consumption, illegal drugs, and many other things. Now, as I’ve read about the Deep Web, there’s some ideas about it I don’t buy. I don’t buy, for example, that there are eight levels to the Web, with the bottom level being run by a massive artificial intelligence formed by the convergence of AIs dumped on the Internet over the past four decades. I also don’t buy that there are parts of the ‘Net that require quantum computing to access, or that QC even exists. I’m sure that it’s being developed right now, but I don’t believe it exists (at least on Earth) yet. However, the Deep Web does, and I’ve divided it up into four levels. My classifications use common Web terms that I’ve slightly repurposed for this purpose.
- Surface Web
- The Surface Web, according to any information on the Deep Web I’ve read online, is anything that can be found in a standard Web search engine such as Google, Bing or Duck Duck Go. If a standard Web search engine can find it, it’s Surface Web.
- Deep Web
- Traditionally, Deep Web refers to anything that cannot be found in a standard search engine. I’m repurposing the term here to refer to Web sites that cannot be found in a standard search engine, but can be found by typing in a direct Web address in a standard Web browser. Fortunately, there are some search engines specifically designed to search the Deep Web, primarily for educational purposes. MakeUseOf posted a list of ten here, and there are others.
- Dark Web
- Often, the terms Deep Web and Dark Web are used interchangeably, though in many cases the term Dark Web is used to refer to Web sites that feature controversial and/or illegal content that are somewhat hidden from the public. Examples would include Anonymous’ secret Website, the Silk Road (a place to purchase illegal drugs on the Internet with Bitcoins), and child pornography. I’m repurposing the term “Dark Web” to refer to Web sites and other Internet content that cannot be found through a standard search engine or through standard Web browsers and protocols.
- How do you access this content? There are at least three ways I know of, and are probably many more that I don’t. You can install the Tor Web browser to go to .onion pseudo-top level domains. You can also access much Dark Web content through Freenet and I2p. I haven’t accessed the Dark Web and don’t know if I ever will. If you do, however, be careful. I suggest you at least run these apps/services through a VPN and an additional proxy, in a virtual machine specifically set aside for exploring the Dark Web. And please stay away from child pornography. It’s the sickest, most evil thing in the world.
- The Wall
- Again, I’m repurposing a popular Internet term. The term I’m repurposing this time is “pay wall.” A pay wall is a requirement that a user purchase a subscription and use an account, with a user name and password, to access content on a Web site. Examples include many news articles on the Wall Street Journal Website, a Playboy iPad/Desktop Computer subscription or a paid subscription to Shadow Government Statistics.
- The reason I’m shortening this to the term “Wall” is that, in my list, the fourth “level” of the Internet refers to any content that cannot be viewed without having an account with a user name and password. Besides the pay examples above, some other examples include message boards that you must have an account to view (many message boards allow you to view them without an account, but require one to post), private Twitter or Facebook accounts, and private data storage accounts at sites like Dropbox and Windows Live Skydrive. I also include here the Intranets of various governments, companies and other organizations that are accessed by internal computers that also have Internet access. The Wall extends from the most open areas of the Surface Web all the way down to the deepest parts of the Deep Web and the Dark Web. This does not include private databases kept by individuals, organizations and other groups on non-Internet connected computers.
I am certainly no expert on the Internet. From what I’ve read the past few days, however, this is what I’ve been able to piece together about the deeper parts of the Web. I’ve also read rumors about parts of the Dark Web called Marianas Web and Tsalalnet. I certainly have no proof that these areas of the Dark Web even exist. The rumors I have seen, though, tell me that they are filled with the sickest, most depraved content out there and that the Tsalalnet even may be related to dark mysticism. If these things do exist, my guess is that they are not “levels” of the Web, but perhaps portals to very sick, evil content or message boards featuring such disgusting content. Regardless, I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my very amateur analysis, and that you all continue to enjoy and learn on the Internet. And stay safe, clean and legal, especially if you explore the Deep Web and the Dark Web.