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Famously Anonymous: Tor Social Networks

Humans are social creatures. So it should come as no surprise that there are almost as many social networks on Tor as there are on the clearnet.

Of course, it depends on what you consider a “social network,” but there are both Facebook-like networks (where you add friends, join groups, etc.), as well as numerous forums (like The HUB, or any of the marketplace forums).

Don’t Judge A Blackbook by its Cover

Credit: El Cafe Paranormal

Blackbook was the first social network I joined when I started to use Tor. Does it look familiar at all? Yeah, it was, more or less, the Facebook of Tor, and used to be located at http://blkbook3fxhcsn3u.onion.top.

As with Facebook, you would join, create a profile, upload pictures, describe a little bit about yourself, and try to make friends. Here’s the catch: Blackbook was completely uncensored. Such things as nudity, white supremacist messages, self-harm photos, and the like were not off-limits in any way. I expected all this, so I wasn’t very shocked.

Speaking of which, you know how everyone uses their real names on Facebook? Blackbook was the exact opposite. Just about everyone, including me, used pseudonyms (in fact, mine was computer-generated). I also used a fake location, age, and just about everything else.

As you might expect, Blackbook had quite a few “groups” (much like those on Facebook) related to things you might find on Tor: drugs, hacking, carding, cryptography, etc. However, I learned some lessons the hard way; I went into this with my usual sardonic humor, and it came back to bite me in the ass (just a little).

Like Facebook, people would post statuses describing how they were feeling that day, etc. One time I posted a status along the lines of, “Hey everybody! I’m an escaped serial killer with 20 victims! Can I seek shelter here?” The crazy thing was, some people took it seriously. Later, someone sent me a message and said, “Dude, never joke around like that on the dark web. People tend to take stuff at face value.”

As with many of the darknet markets, Blackbook eventually shut down. I wasn’t that disappointed, but I noticed that a number of its former members migrated to other social networks. If you click on its former link, you’re greeted with this message:

In case that’s hard to read, it says “Welcome to the old home of Blackbook. We are working ons [sic] a new more secure website. Check out the 2017 Hidden Wiki draft. [address removed]. Thank you and we hope to be back soon.”

I’m curious as to what the new site will be like, if it goes up. That remains to be seen.

Galaxy and Galaxy2

Those of you who’ve used Tor for several years may remember the original Galaxy social network, an Elgg-based site created in 2013. It was one of the more popular social networks in its time.

That site, too, has since shut down, but a user named Lameth (a friend of the Galaxy creator) designed a successor called Galaxy2 (that has a similar format). I’ve actually become a member of the latter, though I haven’t been active in awhile.

As on Blackbook, you create a username, profile, add pics, describe yourself…all the usual stuff you would do on a social network. Also, like Blackbook, members generally use pseudonyms, and while some may use real photos of themselves, they’re in the minority. More often, the profile photos represent aspects of the user’s personality. For example, if someone’s a hacker, they might use a photo that represents coding.

Galaxy2, like its predecessor, has a feature called The Wire, in which you might hear things like, “All in the game, yo…all in the game.” Wait…wrong Wire. Ahem…actually, The Wire on Galaxy2 is a microblogging platform, similar to Twitter or Tumblr. As on those two, people generally write short snippets, or share photos and videos through it.

I do recall that one of the people I “met” on Galaxy2 was Harry71, of “Harry71’s Onion Spider” fame – this isn’t to say that we got to know one another on a personal level. I also came across several others who had popular sites in Onionland.

The main difference between the Galaxy sites and Blackbook, as I see it, is that it seems to be maintained quite well, and it has a very loyal and dedicated community that comes with time. Also, as stated in the rules above, “public commercial trade” is not allowed, which helps Galaxy2 avoid being eyed by law enforcement.

While some members may do so in private messages, commercial goods and services aren’t sold out in the open.

Overall, my experience on Galaxy2 has been positive, though I’ve more or less stayed under the radar for quite some time.

The Book of Tor

Beyond the two above, there have been several social networks using the name “TorBook,” which, like Blackbook, have intended to be the Facebook of Tor. Also, like Blackbook, TorBook (and its successors) have a similar layout and feel to Facebook, with a news feed, photo sharing, friend requests, etc.

The most recent version of TorBook, TorBook3, is up and running at j2k5m6rtorbook3w.onion.top. However, I have limited experience with this one, and based on the fact that the first two TorBooks have shut down, it’s possible that this one will as well.

Pros vs. Cons…

While the idea of using social media on Tor with a fake identity might be fun, it carries its fair share of risks.

Like certain markets and forums on Tor, most of the social networks require you to enable Javascript in your browser – otherwise the sites won’t function. Unfortunately, once you start whitelisting sites in Tor, this can create a distinct browser fingerprint, which is one of the things Tor was designed to reduce as much as possible.

Also, once you start running scripts, you run the risk of making yourself vulnerable to Java/Javascript exploits (to name a few) that would normally be blocked by the NoScript extension. If the point of Tor is anonymity, then becoming involved in Facebook-ish social networks kind of defeats the purpose.

The other possible risk is that these social networks (like some of the financial services) can be scams, in and of themselves. How, you ask?

Let’s take Blackbook as an example. Like many of the markets such as AlphaBay and Dream Market, Blackbook advertised services such as carding and drug sales. Regrettably, there was no reliable way to know what was a scam and what wasn’t, and my tendency was to just assume that any sort of paid service was a scam (which was why I didn’t buy anything on these sites).

While I may not have been scammed, I think it’s fair to assume that at least a few others did at some point.

That being said, risky or not, choosing to use these social networks is up to you. If you’re willing to take the risk, then go ahead.

Just keep in mind: with regard to the dark web, if it sounds too good to be true, it definitely is.

14 comments

  1. who the fuck needs social networks we are on there to make money

    • blacklight447

      not everyone is one the dark web for money, there are also people on that want to share their opinion (like preventing to get bashed upon by their local community because your opinion is an unpopulair one) anonymous social networks can help with that for example).

    • ciphas

      Actually, some people do sell things on the social networks. There were sections for carding, drugs, and hacking services on Blackbook. So you’re right.

    • FuckThat

      this is probably the most retarted reaction i’ve seen. Most people use it for personal freedom only a majority is using it to make money.

    • shadow

      how do you make money on there? i need to make some real cash… need help

  2. A surprising amount of people on Tor want to be social and meet people from around the world. There are also quite a few people (on Galaxy2 anyway) who are on Tor to make money on alternate identities. Lots of people come to Tor to chat. I should know, I run a Tor-only chatroom and have 50+ regular daily users.

  3. slacker dude with a PhD

    Do people remember Baywords???? That site was excellent. It was vibrant and had many members. Then it shut down overnight with it’s host Pirate Bay! Anyone know of a site comparable to Baywords?? I would love to know!!

  4. Actually, on Galaxy2, sales within the site are strongly discouraged, as are any CP/JB. Quick way to get banned. We’re a site where society’s masks come off and the true face is revealed.

    • Thanks for shedding some light on this, xl33t. That was always the sense I got on these sites. Where you could be yourself regardless of taboos.

  5. Owner of TorBook3 here, we have enough advertisers to keep the site online for a long time :)

    I’m also working with some other people to re code the site and make it work with out Javascript. We will be moving our servers to a more secure location soon.

  6. torbook 3 or galaxy awesome, not everyone its criminal on darknet

  7. Where is Atlayo?

  8. Is it true that blackbook is back, up and running? I saw this weekend but will it stay online? blkbook3fxhcsn3u.onion.top

    • Fascisms Finest

      Blackbook is fully operational. In fact, I took it upon myself to help the admin by spreading the word far and wide.

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