Checking Up on the "Shadow Web" in 2020

Someone recently left a comment here asking about the “shadow web,” which is one of the first topics that this blog covered from its inception. Though it seems to have been thoroughly debunked, it’s worth doing a follow-up.

As mentioned in previous posts about this subject, the idea that a shadow web exists at all comes from a creepypasta originally written on the subreddit r/nosleep, which consists of horror stories (and which may or may not be true). In this instance, the latter is the case. The original post appears to have been archived, but there’s a copy here: A Warning to Those Thinking About Accessing The Shadow Web.

The story, if you’re still unfamiliar with it, basically consists of someone finding a “darker” part of the dark web in which people pay to see snuff film content, which is one of the persistent urban legends about the dark web itself. While there is some disturbing content on the dark web, the Shadow Web is still fake, and will always be. Even so, this hasn’t stopped scammers from attempting to capitalize on said legend.

At the time of this writing, there are still several sites purporting to offer “access” to the so-called shadow web (and red rooms, of course). One, for example, is here: http://shadowdvttuvtxfd.onion/pay.html

It’s reasonable to think that the same webmaster created this site as the original scam site, although there’s no way of knowing. On one of the older posts about this subject, someone had commented and said that they knew who made the original site, and referred to them as “…a big troll.” That seems like enough evidence to put the nail in the coffin for this subject (at least as far as this blog is concerned).

While earlier posts had stated that red rooms exist, new information has come to light. Even though there are numerous sites that bill themselves as red rooms, these appear to all be scams, just as the shadow web sites. At the time these posts were written, less information was available about Tor’s limitations, and thus it appeared as if red rooms could exist.

While it does seem possible to stream video over Tor at present (which you couldn’t at the time), it still seems unlikely that any of these sites are genuine, given that it would be much easier to run a service like this as a scam than to do the real thing.

The case may be that because things are so chaotic and uncertain around the world right now due to COVID-19, people are looking for distractions, and that red room/horror movie content appeals to a certain demographic. While it is true that Tor is faster than it once was, and that some sites are able to stream video, the speed still seems to be limited (at the very least, it takes videos a long time to load).

As mentioned on the previous posts about this subject, there are many videos of deaths on film, so it’s not that they don’t exist at all (prominent examples being “3 Guys 1 Hammer,” “1 Lunatic 1 Ice Pick,” and others). Still, it appears that there aren’t verified examples of sites where murders are streamed live (at least not purposely).

The closest examples that come to mind in the present day are the Christchurch mosque shootings (which were streamed over Facebook of all places). Is it ironic that a brutal murder like that didn’t need to be streamed over an encrypted anonymous network, but rather one of the most public social media sites in the world?

In addition, YouTuber Reignbot, back in 2017, uploaded a video entitled 3 Disturbing Live Streamed Tragedies, which covered incidents like these. All of these happenings occurred over the clearnet, strangely enough. It seems that if you wanted to commit murder and have as many people see it as possible, you would do so over the clearnet (as counter-intuitive as that might seem).

Have you come across anything similar, either on the dark web or clearnet? Feel free to share any interesting finds in the comments.

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