What is the dark web?
The deep web is the part of the internet that is not indexed by search engines. A part of the deep web is the dark web, which exists inside layered proxy networks—known as darknets. Of these darknets, Tor is by far the largest. The suffix of its native domains, .onion, has become synonymous with internet freedom.
This article can also be found on the dark web!
Get the Tor browser (also known as the .onion browser) and go to http://expressobutiolem.onion/blog/best-onion-sites-on-dark-web/.
But what kind of sites are hosted in this darknet? What do they do, and why are they there? ExpressVPN proudly presents nine of the most (in-)famous:
(Note: You will need the Tor Browser to open all links to .onion websites in this article and to access the dark web. You can get the Tor Browser here.)
1. The Pulitzer-winning ProPublica
The first online publication that won a Pulitzer is now also the first major publication with a .onion address.
ProPublica does a lot of things differently. Its source of funding is the deep wallet of the Sandler Foundation and various other similar organizations.
Browsing ProPublica’s work through its .onion site works well, and the site’s very existence is a big win for privacy and free speech.
2. Facebook’s .onion site
Why would one of the largest organizations known for its invasive stance on privacy and controversial clear-name policy have a .onion address?
While Facebook might collect everything you say and do on its platform, it isn’t happy with sharing this information with others. Facebook is also keenly aware of attempts by many governments to restrict access to a tool that allows strangers across the web to talk and collaborate freely.
Facebook’s .onion address doesn’t make it much easier to maintain an anonymous account, but it does make Facebook more accessible in places where it’s censored.
3. DuckDuckGo where Google doesn’t
Searching for content but don’t want to give up your privacy? DuckDuckGo is a great alternative to Google. Search activity isn’t logged by design. Even without the ability to learn about your behavior or monitor your email and browsing, DuckDuckGo provides decent results. Which raises the question: Are Google’s extensive surveillance techniques really necessary?
Over Tor, Google becomes annoying to use, because it frequently subjects searchers to captchas to prove they’re human. But The Duck excels at speed, reliability, and privacy.
4. The Privacy Conscious Wasabi Wallet
Wasabi Wallet is a Bitcoin wallet that not only hides all your data in the Tor Network but also allows you to ‘join’ your transactions with others to increase your anonymity. This makes it incredibly difficult to find out who you are paying.
The process costs a fee, but unlike with other ‘tumbler’ or ‘mixing’ services, there is no risk that Wasabi or any of its users could scam you out of your coins.
5. Riseup, the anonymous email and chat provider for activists
Riseup is a volunteer-run email provider for activists around the world.
Founded around 1999 by activists in Seattle, it has since grown to over six million users worldwide. It publishes a newsletter in multiple languages and not only runs Onion services for its website but all its email and chat services.
Sci-Hub is a platform that aims to liberate the world’s scientific knowledge.
Founded by Alexandra Elbakyan of Kazakhstan in 2011, it hosts over 50 million research papers and makes them available for free. This gives underfunded scientific institutions, as well as individuals, unprecedented access to the world’s collective knowledge, something certain to boost humankind’s search for an end to diseases, droughts, and hunger.
6. SecureDrop lets you leak information anonymously
SecureDrop is software that anybody can install for their local news organization. It makes it easy to let informants securely drop leaked information into an electronic ‘dead mailbox,’ which journalists can later open.
The tool also has a functionality that lets journalists communicate privately with their source. SecureDrop is used by many news organizations, including ProPublica, The Guardian, The Intercept, and The Washington Post. Want to browse through the leaked documents of some of the world’s most feared governments?
7. The actual CIA
Tor has an unlikely history. It was first developed by the U.S. Navy to help informants posted in foreign countries to relay information back safely. In that spirit, the CIA launched an Onion site to help people around the world access its resources securely.
8. Keybase is the cryptographic profile link system
Keybase is an exciting identity service that aims to make it easy for you to link the presence of your online identities together in a cryptographic way. You can upload your PGP key, or have the site create one for you, and use it to cryptographically link your Twitter profile, Github account, or Bitcoin address together.
Keybase significantly raises the bar for attackers who want to impersonate you.
9. The Hidden Wiki on .onion
How do you discover content where search engines cannot reach? Just like in the old days of the internet, the dark web maintains numerous indexes of sites, like The Hidden Wiki.
This community-edited .onion Wikipedia contains a bunch of links to a wide variety of services and sources running on the dark web. Many of those links are defunct, and even more of them link to scams or potentially illegal activities. Click with caution!
It’s the only site in this list that already has the longer, more secure Version 3 onion URL.
So many more great sites
This is ExpressVPN’s list of .onion domains worth a visit, but these are not even the tip of the iceberg. There’s so much content out there (be warned, though, it’s not all good stuff).
We also liked:
The BBC: https://www.bbcnewsv2vjtpsuy.onion/
The New York Times: https://www.nytimes3xbfgragh.onion/
The Pirate Bay: http://uj3wazyk5u4hnvtk.onion/
Démocratie Participative: http://dp742web5fzh674o.onion/
But, we regret to inform you that The Onion does not have an Onion site: https://www.theonion.com/
What are your favorite .onion sites? Are there any sites you wish had a .onion address? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
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Lexie is the blog's resident tech expert and gets excited about empowerment through technology, space travel, and pancakes with blueberries.
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