SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - First, there needs to be a distinction between the deep web and the dark net, because they are not necessarily interchangeable terms.
The deep web is anything that cannot be found through a search engine, but that includes so much more than what you think, like private Facebook photos, Twitter direct messages, bank account information and even news articles found behind paywalls.
While no one really knows the vastness or depth of the deep web, conservative estimates believe an overwhelming majority of all internet content is on the deep web. Everything that can be found through search engines or a Google search is what is considered part of the surface web. Just for perspective, there are around four to five billion indexed websites on the surface web. Some experts estimate there are about 400 to 500 TIMES that many on the deep web.
Which brings us to the dark web. Think of the dark web and deep web as squares and rectangles, respectively. The dark web is always the deep web, but the deep web is not necessarily the dark web. Now that we've thoroughly confused you, think of the dark net as the black market.
According to a Rolling Stone Article:
The dark net is made up of a host of sites that operate on the deep web, but deal with illegal activities like guns, drugs, child porn and even human trafficking. Sites like Silk Road have been in the news over the last several years because they are a veritable bazaar of illegal activities and products, like a Craigslist for drugs or weapons.
The deep web can be accessed through specialized software, like Tor, that encrypts IP addresses, rendering the user virtually invisible. But don't think that just because you're on the deep web it's like browsing the surface web; often times the websites on the deep web, and dark net, are very crude or rudimentary, similar to the early internet.
Encryption software like Tor also allows users to browse the surface web anonymously, but because of its slow nature, this isn't a very viable option.
Daniel Moore and Thomas Rid, authors of Cryptopolitik and the Darknet, estimate that only three to six percent of the users on the deep web are visiting dark net sites, instead most users only use Tor software for privacy reasons.
The deep web was created for much less than what it is used for today, and the nefarious dealings are a sad byproduct of a product that is helping people, and countries, browse privately and safely without fear or repercussions from regimes or censorship.