The ban on forums that discuss the darknet markets and related topics came as a no surprise to users who frequently use the community because it was a matter of when, and not if, it would transpire.
Most of the forums were a source of information for various parties.
Among the people who used the now-banned subreddits are those who buy and sell on the darknet markets, news outlets, admins of the hidden sites, scholars, researchers and, last but not least, law enforcement agencies.
Darknet-Related Reddit Forums Offer Essential Resources
Buyers and sellers are among the top persons who used the forums to outsource information. For the buyers, they often asked for advice depending on the situation at hand, such as finding information about a particular vendor or hidden marketplace.
On the other hand, the sellers who are well known to look for customers on these subreddits, used the platform to post about the products they offer. However, one ought to be extremely cautious because they may end up being scammed.
It has become apparent that some individuals masquerading as legitimate sellers operating on top hidden markets tend to request for offline payments after the potential buyer contacts them through Jabber, ICQ or any other anonymous messaging apps. When this happens, the probability that an individual will fall victim to fraud is very high.
For this reason, it is advisable that persons who communicate with a vendor outside a hidden site should always use use escrow and place a No Finalise Early (No FE) on the order, irrespective of whether they met the vendor on a darknet market or through forums such as Reddit.
The other group that regularly utilizes Reddit is darknet market admins. In many cases, owners of the hidden marketplaces turn to Reddit in search of clientele by posting links to their markets. Apart from that, they search for more ideas and check to see the discussions about specific marketplaces that may be of interest to them.
And then we have news outlets; one can say that this group is probably the single largest consumer of the information on Reddit forums. Also, depending on the forum, news outlets will create traffic by sharing the content of their sites on the subreddits.
Further, scholars and researchers who are writing journals and academic papers about darknet markets will sometimes use subreddits to gather insight into the community. A good example is the case of a university lecturer and a Ph.D. student who recently engaged /r/DarkNetMarkets subreddit users in an AMA session.
Also under the scholars’ category, there are those who seek to conduct interviews with vendors. Recently, a University of Pennsylvania Ph.D. student named Jonathan Pace, also known as hegelsladder, posted a request to interview Silk Road veteran users for his dissertation. (See screenshot below.)
And, last but not least, we have law enforcement agencies who tend to monitor darknet users that frequently post on the forums. During investigations, they take the slightest hints and can link suspects to certain posts.
If in doubt, one can refer to the famous case of Silk Road founder Ross Ulbricht, who used his actual email address to post on Stack Overflow, a Q&A site for coders, stating that he is in need of some coding advice. This among other blunders that led to law enforcement agencies catching up with him.
What’s Next Now That Reddit Has Banned These Forums?
Well, as seen in the past, after the downfall of a famous market or hub used by the dark web community, persons tend to migrate to the next best option, as was the case during the fall of AlphaBay and Hansa last summer. The two giants were seized by law enforcement just weeks apart with AlphaBay going down first, followed by Hansa.
The fall of the markets came as a surprise to the thousands of users who used the hidden sites to buy and sell various types of illegal products. Because of this, some ended up losing their crypto funds and others left without a source of acquiring goods and services.
For this reason, it was paramount these users find an alternative, and that is how some ended up opening accounts with other hidden sites, such as Dream Market—thus proving the statement “when one door closes another one opens” is indeed true.
The same concept applies to the banned forums by Reddit. Users will migrate to other platforms that give them the opportunity to discuss and share stories that are related to dark web affairs without issues.
On one Dream Market subreddit (DreamMarket3), a user going by the name Dream_Market_mod offered some plugs to other forums that can be used as alternatives.
(We have taken a screenshot of the page and posted it below because there is a possibility that the forum may be banned in the coming days, depending on what users will post.)
Two of the options are Voat.co and Dread. The two are similar in one way or the other since they operate under the same underlying concepts with the significant difference being that Voat.co runs on standard browsers, whereas Dread runs on the Tor network.
To access dread, use the URL http://dreadecomdopooda.onion on the Tor Browser.
The above two platforms are likely to see a continuous increase in the number of users over time because darknet users are desperately seeking to hear views of others who frequently use the dark web to undertake various types of activities.
The ban on subreddits that discuss dark web related-topics is forcing users to abandon Reddit for alternative platforms that will provide them with an opportunity to convene and share their stories and experiences with the community.