In 2014 Facebook unveiled a second URL for their site that can only be accessed through Tor, which is a software that allows users to log in anonymously from nearly anywhere on the planet even in countries where Facebook is heavily monitored or blocked. This makes Facebook the first major web company to offer a platform on the dark web.
So what is the dark web and why did Facebook join it. First off all it’s important to understand that the Internet is vast and constantly growing and the majority of our daily usage only scratch the surface. Google Yahoo and other search engines only show about 4% of the data available on the internet. To access the other 96% requires customized digging through individual sites, sub-pages restricted access journals or archives and so on this 96% is called the Deep Web.
It’s also important to understand that pretty much everything we do online is visible traceable and possibly being monitored everything except for the areas of the Deep Web that are masked by the dark web. The dark web is concealed through a series of identity masking layers which basically means that you can access and interact with it anonymously without being tracked. This is achieved through special encryption software like Tor which stands for the Onion Router which when installed on your computer appears and acts like your standard Firefox browser. Albeit slower but instead of routing your connection through a direct line, a Torah routes everything through a series of encrypted computers all over the world bouncing around randomly before it reaches its hosts destination. This makes the origin of the data and the people searching for it unknowable so while you might actually be in New York your search traffic can appear to be coming from random points all over the world making your location essentially untraceable.
So why does Facebook, a company that is anything but anonymous or discreet, want this? Well, they claim that it’s all part of a long term effort to achieve greater accessibility and security for its users which according to some critics is pretty much just code for desired global domination. Facebook wants to be used by everyone everywhere. Pushing the site into the dark web opens Facebook up to users who might otherwise be unable to access it or who might worry about government surveillance or other security controls or threats places. Iran or China for instance are known to restrict access to social sites like Facebook. Tor won’t shield users Facebook profiles or activities those will still be public but it will keep their location and potentially their real identity hidden from authorities.