Post by @Deku_shrub – Pirate Party UK and digital rights activist, transhumanist and systems administrator:
I’ve recently completed some major work on Wikipedia trying to provide strong definitions of these terms.
‘Deep Web’ is a term first coined by a search indexing specialist company called ‘Bright Planet’ who used it to describe unindexable content covering dynamic databases requests, paywalls and other hard to get at areas of the internet for a search indexing company. Since the term is a part of their company’s product offering, they’ve gone so far as to describe comparisons to the dark web as ‘inaccurate‘.
At some point in 2013 when the Silk Road peaked in notoriety, various web outlets starting using deep web and dark web interchangeably. The result is that people wanting to find out about ‘the deep web’ end up reading about Bright Planet’s search indexing services, and people looking for search indexing services would find about about ‘the dark web’ with various drug darknet markets and the like. Following the airing of fascinating Silk Road documentary ‘Deep Web‘ last week, the conflation between the terms continues.
This is a problem. Should denizens of the dark web and deep web attempt to fully claim the term ‘deep web’ from Bright Planet, or alternatively should communities start to move to more distinct terminologies? A wonderful blog on dictionary.com describes these ambiguous ‘skunked terms’ as something to be avoided when clearly communicating with the reader.
The following original infographic is the result of my work on Wikipedia to try and clear things up. I hope it helps people (cough)the media(cough) use these terms less ambiguously in the future.
Core pages referenced: