If you spend most of your time online (who doesn’t, really?), you might have come across the term dark web before. The mystery surrounding it creates a lot of curiosity among people and the chances are that you’re one of them as well.
However, do you know what the dark web actually is? And, are there any cool websites on the dark web? Here, we’ll take a look at how the dark web differs from the traditional Internet and the best dark web sites & links you can visit in 2021:
Dark Web vs. Deep Web – What’s the Difference?
The deep web is referred to as anything online that can’t be accessed by using a search engine. This means the mail in your Outlook inbox, direct messages (DMs) on social media, and even your private Facebook photos.
The dark web, on the other hand, is defined as the subdivision of the deep web. The bad reputation of the latter stems from its association to the dark web, where much of the illegal activities on the Internet takes place.
Some examples include human trafficking, drug trade, weapons dealing, and pornography, to name a few. There are various reasons to stay off the dark web. However, at the same time, it’s a place worth visiting too.
Besides, you’ll come across some great sites there!
Top Dark Web Sites That Don’t Show Up On Google
Note: You’ll need to install the Tor browser to open these links to .onion websites and gain access to the dark web:
Let’s face it – email isn’t a secure means of communication! The contents of your inbox are accessible to email providers. Take, for instance, Gmail scans your emails to show you more relevant search results and advertisements.
Mail2Tor makes a good alternative as it allows users to send/receive messages anonymously through webmail or an email client. What’s more, all mail is secured using encryption, and the provider doesn’t store your IP address either.
Though Facebook knows a lot about you than you can imagine, it isn’t keen on sharing this data with others. The social media giant has also been the target of censorship from repressive governments time and time again. After all, it enables users from around the world to connect, communicate, and collaborate with each other freely.
So, it’s no surprise that Facebook has a .onion URL. It doesn’t do much in terms of maintaining an anonymous account, but lets you access the social media network from restricted countries.
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3. The Hidden Wiki
If you’re looking to find active .onion websites and their URLs, you have a few ways to go about it. One of the most convenient is to use a dark web link directory, such as The Hidden Wiki. Some sites are completely legit (like domain services), and some (like whistleblowing tools) might be censored in your country.
Then, you also have others that might not be as legal. That’s why you should be cautious about which .onion links you click on!
The aim of the five-time Pulitzer Prize winner ProPublica is “To expose abuses of power and betrayals of the public trust by government, business, and other institutions, using the moral force of investigative journalism to spur reform through the sustained spotlighting of wrongdoing.”
It’s the first major online publication to have a .onion address. The non-profit newsroom is funded by organizations such as the Sandler Foundation and has made countless contributions in the fight for free speech and privacy.
Do you want to search for something privately? Then, DuckDuckGo is one of the best alternatives to Google. Your search activity isn’t stored, and you get decent answers for most queries without all the tracking. The search engine is also available on the dark web and offers an additional layer of anonymity and privacy with fast search results.
Unfortunately, most of the mainstream media today can’t be trusted because it’s rarely unbiased and accurate. The best way to stay up-to-date with the latest happenings is to use an open-source and community-oriented news aggregator like SoylentNews. Users can submit their stories from anywhere in the globe and even engage in insightful conversations on public discussion forums.
TorLinks is a great alternative to The Hidden Wiki and provides a list of .onion websites across various categories. Sure, there’s some overlap between the two, but the list of sites on TorLinks is widely different. Considering how regularly dark web sites vanish and go offline, it’s better to have more than one source to help you find .onion URLs.
8. The CIA
Tor’s history is an unlikely tale. It was created by the U.S Navy with the purpose of helping informants in foreign nations to communicate safely over the Internet. The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), in that spirit, released a .onion site so that people from across the globe can browse their resources securely and anonymously.
It offers all the same services, contacts, and information that you’ll come across on the CIA’s normal site. The .onion site is aimed at individuals that want to share information anonymously with the spy agency but are at the risk of being tracked.
SecureDrop is software platform that NGOs and media organizations can install to accept leaked information from whistleblowers safely. It also comes with a functionality that allows journalists to communicate with their source(s) in a private manner. Many news sites use SecureDrop, such as The Washington Post, ProPublica, and The Guardian.
10. Hidden Answers
Hidden Answers is like the Reddit or Quora of the dark web and one of the most popular dark web sites to visit. It’s a place where users ask for advice, share stories, and talk about a wide variety of topics. Unlike Quora or Reddit, Hidden Answers offers you total anonymity.
11. The Dark Lair
The Dark Lair was initially an image hosting platform and evolved into a social network over time. You can share images, post comments, and engage with other users as both a registered as well as anonymous user.
Don’t trust Facebook’s dark web site? In this case, you should give Galaxy3 a try. Of course, you won’t find most of your real-life friends on there. However, you’ll find computer code experts, people searching for adult dates, and other interesting individuals.
Founded by Alexandra Elbakyan, Sci-Hub eliminates all barriers that get in the way of acquiring scientific knowledge. It does this by hosting more than 50 million research papers and making them available to individuals and scientific institutions for no cost whatsoever.
Smartmixer is a bitcoin mixer. When you purchase things online using cryptocurrency, third-parties can still link your transactions to your identity. The service scrambles your Bitcoin with that of other crypto users, affording you complete anonymity.
15. Torch Search Engine
Torch is the oldest and most well-known search engine for the dark web. Its index has more than 1 million .onion links, which also makes it the largest. Therefore, it makes for a useful multi-purpose search engine – no matter what you’re looking for.
The Importance of a Dark Web Browser
You can’t access the dark web without the use of an anonymous browser known as Tor. It routes all your communications via a series of relays operated by individuals across the world. This makes your IP address untraceable and unidentifiable in the process. While the Tor browser works like magic, the overall experience can be a slow and unreliable one.
What about Dark Web Search Engines?
There are search engines on the dark web, but most of them have a hard time keeping up with the rapidly changing landscape. The search experience is similar to that of the late 1990s. In fact, even the best dark web search engines like Grams often show results that are repetitive and usually unrelated to the query.
Is the Dark Web Illegal?
Using Tor to access the dark web isn’t illegal. But while browsing the dark web won’t get you into any legal trouble, engaging in illicit activities would. For example, purchase drugs or firearms through the dark web is illegal, and you’ll be held liable for your actions.
Frequently Asked Questions
The following are some commonly asked questions about the dark web:
Who Created the Dark Web?
The U.S. government created the dark web as a way to help their spies communicate and exchange information while remaining untraceable in the process. The technology known as The Onion Router (Tor) – developed by computer scientists Nick Mathewson and Roger Dingledine – was made available to the general public in 2002.
Can You Be Tracked on the Dark Web?
The short answer is: no! If certain precautions are taken, what you do on the dark web can’t be traced back to you. However, if you’re guilty of engaging in serious crimes, then it’s very likely the CIA will leave no stone unturned to track you down!
Is it Safe to Visit the Dark Web?
Browsing the dark web is safe as long as you’re accessing legitimate content. Many websites are run by cybercriminals that offer all kinds of illegal goods and services. You might also end up downloading a file or clicking a link which could infect your device with malware. Due to this, it’s important to be selective of the sites you visit on the dark web, and use tools like an antivirus and a VPN before venturing out there.
What are .onion sites?
.onion sites are those that don’t appear on traditional search engines like Google and Bing as they exist on the “dark web” part of the Internet. If you want to access an .onion site, it’s only possible through the use of a specialized browser known as Tor.
How Big is the Dark Web?
It’s difficult to say as nobody really knows how much of the internet accounts for the dark web. However, if we take most estimates into consideration, the dark web makes up around 5% of the whole internet.
Is Tor Illegal?
No. Tor is perfectly legal to use in most countries around the world, as long as you’re not engaging in any illicit activities. However, the browser is either blocked or illegal in some countries. For example, Tor is outlawed and censored in China. Similarly, access to the Tor network is blocked entirely in Venezuela.
Wrapping Things Up
Do you have any favorite dark web sites that you visit from time to time? Let us know in the comments section below!