Deep Web sites, especially those on the Dark Web, don’t exactly advertise their existence to the greater public. After all, many of them offer services or content that society as a whole doesn’t want them to. Still, thanks to word of mouth and sometimes free publicity from a hysterical media sites hidden in the dark and vast belly of the web can become quite popular.
Since people visit these sites anonymously it’s basically impossible to judge popularity by unique visits. So I guess popularity in this context is more like notoriety than anything else. Yet, for one reason or another the sites, I highlight here are always on the lips of deep web citizens. You’ll note that some truly popular sites are not on this list.
For one thing, I’ve decided not to include sites that mainly exist to point you to other deep web locations. We’ve covered those in articles that deal with deep web navigation and in any case, it’s like saying Google is the most popular site on the clearnet. Yes, it gets the most visits, but only due to a technicality. I’m also excluding sites that are no longer extant (such as Grams) because this isn’t a historical list. Other than that anything goes.
The Most Popular Deep Web Sites
We don’t link directly to these sites nor do we endorse the content or purpose they serve. This article is informational and you should always be mindful of your local laws when visiting any site on the deep web. Also, be sure to make use of a good VPN along with Tor, to make sure your browsing is private if you do decide to delve into the depths.
With that advice out of the way, let’s see where people like to go when logged in to the deep web.
What? Facebook?! You might be surprised that the most mainstream of all mainstream sites have a presence on the Tor network, but you better believe it. Especially since Facebook itself isn’t exactly all about privacy. After all, you have to use your real name on the site and they make a living selling our information. So what gives?
There’s actually a good reason for Facebook to set up an onion site and that’s user access. There are plenty of places in the world where accessing and maintaining a Facebook account is blocked and even illegal. While you can’t be anonymous on Facebook, you can access it anonymously thanks to this site. Facebook is so much more than a social media page. It’s a rich source of news and views from around the world. For people living in repressive regimes, it can be a lifeline to the outside world.
Who would have thought that a geeky topic like science would be on the same list as the selfie-obsessed Facebook? Well, you better believe that plenty of people are hungry for access to the latest scientific research, but they may be blocked either by governments or just a simple lack of money. After all, if you want to get access to scientific research papers as a regular citizen you usually have to pay something like thirty dollars just for one paper!
SciHub uses a variety of technological tricks to open up direct downloads to these papers for free, much to the dismay of publishers obviously.
Life as the owner of a darknet market is not an easy one. Sure there’s a fortune to be made in the trade of goods that are, shall we say, less than legal in many parts of the world. At the same time, the man is literally trying to bring you down all the time and the more successful you are the better the chances that you’ll be next on the chopping block.
If someone asked which darknet market was the most popular before 2013 then the answer would naturally have been Silk Road. A year ago I would have said Alphabay or Hansa. Today all three of these markets (plus two Silk Road pretenders) have all disappeared under the boot of the law.
The heir apparent is Dream Market, which has been around since 2013. Yes, that’s right after the original Silk Road got shut down. There have however been reports that Dream Market, which sells drugs, hacked data and more, is also compromised by the five-0. Nonetheless at the time of writing the market is still up, running and trading up a storm.
The dark web is not all about dodgy marketplaces and software piracy, it’s also about a community of people who like to chat about dodgy marketplaces and software piracy. The Hub is probably the busiest and best-known dark web forum where folk anonymously chat about things like Bitcoin, hacking, cryptography, sex, drugs, and rock’n roll.
The closest equivalent on the clearnet is /r/DarkNetMarkets, but unlike that site The Hub has a more gentle hand when it comes to moderation. That’s not to say that anything goes. In fact, the Hub provides various resources, such a drug awareness programs, to help people keep safe and healthy.
Kick Ass Torrents
Here’s another surprise. Kick-Ass Torrents is one of the most popular P2P torrent sites in the world. It is accessible on the clearnet, but the war against torrent sites from the major media houses of the world is relentless. The Pirate Bay has had so many rebirths that no one really knows what it is anymore. With the way, things are going many ISPs are going to knuckle under government pressure and block access to torrent sites on the clearnet anyway. So it makes sense for a site like Kickass Torrents to have a presence on the Tor network, which makes it almost impossible for anyone to force the site off the web. This is one of the best ways to get torrent files or magnet links, but of course, you shouldn’t actually download torrents over Tor. Instead, use a good P2P VPN or truste encrypted seedbox service.
On the clearnet, there are plenty of sites that let small businesses set up digital storefronts. Think about sites like Shopify or Etsy. Reall millennial niche hipster capitalism at work.
Well, for people who don’t have the time or knowledge to set up their own online store and also plan to sell things the coppers will frown upon, there’s TorShops. Here you can buy your own little corner of the dark web. With a custom logo, bitcoin wallet, and other handy commerce tools. There have been a few complaints that the site scams some shop owners and shoppers alike, but honestly, that’s par for the course on even the most upstanding dark web domains.
What happens when you take a site like Yahoo Answers and filter it through the dark and twisted lens that the dark web can be? You get Hidden Answers. A site that provides a place where even the most insane or twisted question can get a serious answer. Whether you have a question about sex, drug, guns or even legal topics like the business advice you can find it here.
Just remember that you can’t believe everything you read on the internet. You doubly can’t believe what you read on the dark web.
The Magnificent Seven
Just like the clearnet is only the tip of the iceberg, these seven sites are simply the more public face of the dark web. Which is in turn only a small fraction of the deep web itself. It’s easy to feel small in the face of such enormous and mysterious information sources. But these seven popular destinations provide a way to dip your toes into what the dark web is all about.
As always, never browse the dark web without the protection of a good VPN. While Tor will keep your identity from the sites you visit and won’t show your ISP where you’re going, everyone will still know you’re on Tor and the dark web. Which is enough to get you put on a watch list in some parts of the world!