A mention of the dark web usually conjures up ominous and sinister imagery. While the dark web is certainly home to some questionable content, it also has a number of legitimate uses, from helping citizens circumvent government censorship, to adding an extra layer of anonymity to email services.
Here are 12 legitimate reasons for using the dark web.
1. Circumvent Government Censorship
While online anonymity has allowed illegal content to flourish on the dark web, it has also made it useful for citizens in countries with authoritarian governments to bypass internet restrictions put in place by their government.
Governments around the world attempt to control what their citizens can see online. The dark web can hide a citizen’s online activities from a surveilling government. Using the dark web, users could hide information such as the sites visited, and the location of the user.
2. Anonymous Email Services
While a number of encrypted email services are available on the surface web, users looking for an extra layer of anonymity can head over to the dark web. The best known email service on the dark web is ProtonMail, which is supported by the Tor network and protects user privacy, combats censorship, and avoids the surveillance of their users.
Dark web exclusive email services also exist, the best known include Torbox and Mail2Tor, which can only be accessed through a Tor browser.
3. Anonymous Collaboration With Journalists
Some people, such as whistleblowers, might only feel comfortable contacting journalists under a veil of anonymity.
SecureDrop is a communication software that uses the Tor network to facilitate anonymous communication between sources and journalists. It is widely used among news media outlets including Forbes, Vice Media, and the New Yorker.
4. Visit News Outlets
While the web is accessible worldwide to anyone with an internet connection, international governments block news websites sometimes. The dark web has been a handy tool in combatting this kind of censorship, with the investigative news organization ProPublica establishing a presence on the dark web in 2016.
Citizens worldwide can anonymously access ProPublica’s Tor accessible website, even if the government has blocked it on the surface web in their country.
The New York Times and the BBC followed ProPublica’s lead and have both launched dark web copies of their websites on the Tor network.
In 2019, the CIA launched its official presence on the dark web. While the dark web may seem like an unlikely place for a government agency to be present, the website is aimed at people who want to contact the CIA but are concerned about being tracked.
6. Access to Academic Research
Academic research can sometimes be prohibitive to access—you often have to pay a hefty fee to access a single article.
The American Journal of Freestanding Research Psychology on the dark web tried to solve this conundrum by hosting academic papers on its site for free. Even better, there’s no need to worry about the legality of accessing the articles, every academic paper hosted on the site was submitted by the original authors.
7. Use Ad-Free Search Engines
Search engines are the backbone of the internet—they help people quickly and easily find the information they are seeking. However, search engine results are often accompanied by advertisements that can distract you from what you are searching for.
Some search engines, like DuckDuckGo, have mirrors on the dark web. Here, you can search the surface web, while both protecting your anonymity and not seeing advertisements.
This way, no one will ever know what you are searching for, and you can avoid those distracting advertisements.
8. Secure Your Cryptocurrency Wallets
While cryptocurrencies like bitcoin have countless benefits, one of the major drawbacks is that every transaction is public and traceable.
Dark web services like Wasabi Wallet and Shadow Wallet use a variety of techniques such as coinjoins and tumbling to enhance the anonymity of bitcoin transactions and make it difficult to trace a particular coin.
Almost everyone with access to the internet has a social media account on at least one of the most popular platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. Over the years, a number of social media platforms on the dark web have appeared, with BlackBook, Galaxy, and TorBook among the most popular.
Surprisingly, some of our favorite social media platforms on the surface web, among them Twitter and Facebook, have launched mirror sites on the dark web for users who wish to avoid government monitoring.
10. Listen to Online Radio
Radio is no longer something restricted to the airwaves. A number of radio sites live on the dark web where you can select the station of your choice.
One of the most popular radio station sites on the dark web is Deep Web Radio, where you can tune into a number of stations that specialize in different genres.
11. Find Niche Content
The dark web is home to numerous communities, blogs, and sites that host niche and specialized content.
One of the most well-known niche sites on the dark web is The Chess, which allows users to play an anonymous game of chess against a stranger. Beneath VT is a popular blog dedicated to exploring the steam tunnels that exist beneath Virgina Tech, complete with a map, trip log, and a list of warnings of the potential dangers of exploring the tunnels.
12. Participate in Forums and Chat Boards
The dark web is home to chat boards and forums that bring communities together who want to talk about things anonymously that they might be uncomfortable discussing otherwise.
One of the most popular forums on the dark web include Paradise, where users can discuss social issues and problems in the world under the cover of anonymity.
Get the Most Out of the Dark Web
Despite the dark web’s poor reputation, there are some corners of light with sites serving legal and legitimate purposes.
While it isn’t always easy to find something on the dark web, specialized search engines exist on the dark web that help users find exactly what they are looking for.
The 12 Best Deep Search Engines to Explore the Invisible Web
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