The practice of discussing darknet issues online has become increasingly difficult owing to the recent events targeting dark web activities.
This is also owed to the fact that site owners have become more alert to the kind and source of content that users are posting on their forums.
Reddit, the popular discussion site, was considered a go-to place for darknet-related discourses that would demystify the dark web and alert darknet users of emerging trends in the community.
Unfortunately, the biggest darknet subreddit was banned recently on grounds of gross violations of Reddit’s policy that prohibits illicit trades. Particularly, Reddit considered the darknet subreddit to be a spot for the trade of prohibited goods.
The sourcing of banned substances, through the forum, concerned Reddit moderators and influenced their decision to ban the community.
The Reddit story sheds light on the predicament of darknet marketplaces. Like the markets themselves, it seems that these dark web communities are compelled to migrate to alternatives whenever the hammer strikes them.
In the discussion forum context, it appears that an outlet called Dread has replaced the old darknet subreddit that was very popular among the dark web community.
Wall Street Market Embraces Dread
An announcement has been made on Wall Street Market Forum to “invite everybody to know Dread.”
In the post, made by a Wall Street Market super moderator, the thread described Dread as a Reddit-like software that operates on the onion network.
In the same taste, the post clarified that Dread is a product that was built from scratch and adorned with key security features, the possibility of scalability and the luxury of non-censorship.
The same post also provided a direct onion link to Wall Street Market’s Dread forum, and including three mirror links and a single link bearing forum rules (see screenshot below).
The post was received with varied reactions from the darknet market’s vendors. While most users seemed to be elated by the news, one (“NeonTron”) wondered why the admins had chosen Dread despite having the Wall Street Market Forum.
That meant that the forum was probably not secure and discussions had to be hosted elsewhere.
In response, the super moderator intimated that the decision was not made owing to a compromised Wall Street Market Forum but was made in support of Dread. In his opinion, Dread is an amazing project that is constructed differently from their forum. He believed that with the recent bans on Reddit subs, it was prudent to show darknet solidarity by supporting Dread (see screenshot).
The significance of Dread’s entry into the darknet scene can be understood through the lens of recent events.
Several countries have come up in arms to target cryptocurrencies and more so the illicit markets that support the growth of these non-conventional currencies. It is for this reason that it may be assumed that a ban on darknet forums was a looming threat in the dark web community.
Governments understand that the prevention of information-sharing is the most effective way to slow the growth of outlaw institutions.
As witnessed before, the dark web has become capable of adapting to an unfavorable business environment. The closure of key darknet markets is typically followed by a mass migration of users to alternative platforms.
A great example is the dramatic takedown of AlphaBay in 2017.
For a long time, AlphaBay had established itself as the king of the dark web. It supported the trade in illicit goods ranging from hard drugs to stolen personal data. At some point, AlphaBay seemed to be the criminal alternative to Amazon, which had carved a niche for itself as the ultimate online retail giant of this era.
The ultimate seizure of AlphaBay meant that its customers and vendor community had to search for plausible alternatives.
In this sense, the remaining marketplaces seemed to offer a concrete promise to the migrants. For criminal syndicates, the demise of the dark web’s most prolific illicit market instigated a search for an alternative titan to fill the gap left by AlphaBay.
This scenario can also be reflected in the banning of forums that discuss darknet topics, particularly the /r/DarkNetMarkets subreddit. The closure of discussion forums would be followed by a migration of users to alternatives that are deemed fit for the purpose of sustaining the darknet community.
The banning of darknet-related subreddits opened possibilities to two forum options: Dread and Voat.co. These platforms operate under similar mechanisms but are hosted differently. Voat.co is accessible on the surface web while Dread operates on the Tor network.
The forums have registered an influx of users owing to the support they have received from the dark web community. As illustrated earlier, Wall Street Market has urged all users to join their forum on the Dread platform.
This call will bear fruit owing to the fact that darknet users rely on a constant supply of credible information to “stay alive” in an otherwise volatile business environment.
In a nutshell, the essence of migrating to Dread was validated by the closure of other platforms such as the subreddits that supported discussions about darknet markets.
Suitability of Dread as the Ideal Darknet Forum
But how suitable is Dread in reviving darknet discussions? A brief understanding of its key features is fundamental to approaching this question:
1. Runs on the Tor network.
The fact that Dread operates on the most popular anonymity network gives promises of advanced privacy. Unlike its counterpart, Voat.co, which is accessible through regular browsers, Dread can only be approached via an onion link.
2. Platform for open discussions.
Dread has been designed to host open conversations concerning the dark web. Agreeably, the darknet world has suffered the lack of an interactive community that is acceptable to the majority of dark web users.
Dread’s virtue of operating in the hidden web means that users will have the luxury of discussing issues candidly. It is also important that Dread’s development borrowed important features from Reddit.
Most importantly, the community platform will offer the chance for darknet groups, or sub-communities to operate in an uncensored environment.
3. Source of dark web information.
Dread will also provide services concerning the dissemination of dark web information that includes security reports for marketplaces that extend to updates regarding the websites that support darknet trade.
This significance is especially relevant amid the recent and ongoing onslaught by law enforcement against darknet markets. Security reports will go a long way to sensitize users on the security status of the markets they utilize.
4. Possession of an onion site catalogue.
Furthermore, Dread possesses a catalogue for the dark web’s hidden sites. It gives a list of links to the websites with the intention of connecting users to the most prolific marketplaces.
The list is also associated with security ratings as a measure to inform users using the platform’s security reports.
This list provides users with an opportunity to analyze markets and make informed decisions concerning the choice of darknet markets they would use to sell or buy goods and services.
5. Promised efficiency.
Dread has incorporated a mirror system for each market. About five mirrors will be attached to each marketplace. These mirrors will be subjected to regular monitoring and evaluation to ensure that they fulfill their purpose.
A statistical mechanism will be used to keep records of uptimes, page response information and other vital forms of relevant data.
This robust monitoring system will expectedly advance efficiency and streamline user experience on the platform.
Dread seems to be the ultimate source for dark web-related forums following Reddit’s ban of darknet subreddits.
Wall Street Market has joined the series of markets that have moved to adapt to the new change.
While the dark web continues to evolve, the future remains obscure—time will surely test the resilience of the darknet markets.
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