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The Dark Net: Inside the Digital Underworld

3.65  ·  Rating details ·  4,479 ratings  ·  536 reviews

Beyond the familiar online world that most of us inhabit – a world of Google, Hotmail, Facebook and Amazon – lies a vast and often hidden network of sites, communities and cultures where freedom is pushed to its limits, and where people can be anyone, or do anything, they want. A world that is as
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published August 21st 2014 by William Heinemann (first published August 17th 2014)
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Average rating 3.65  · 
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Have you ever found yourself lost in the deep web? Checked out the merchandise on the Silk Road, and paid for it in Bitcoins? Or maybe you occasionally frequent 4chan, particularly /b/? If none of these things sound particularly familiar, then The Dark Net might be a good book to introduce you to all of them.

Jamie Bartlett writes the tech column for The Telegraph which I occasionally read, and I approached his book with interest - I expected it to be an approachable and readable introduction to
Jul 15, 2017 rated it liked it

If you want to read a book that reveals all the hidden, mysterious secrets of the 'Dark Net', this isn't it. Jamie Bartlett does talk about the 'underground network' - and provides details about the 'Silk Road' website that sells illegal drugs - but most of the sites discussed aren't especially cryptic.

Nevertheless, the author provides an interesting overview of non-mainstream goings on in the cyberworld. In Bartlett's view, the dark net is a place where "users say and do what they like, often
Nov 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
I can't remember when and how I first became aware of this book, but I had always assumed - mainly, I suppose, because of the title, and the subjects covered within the book - that it would primarily be about the deep web. In fact, only one chapter is really about that, and the rest of the book is actually about broader categories of online activity and behaviour encapsulated by the subtitle - 'inside the digital underworld'. Topics covered include trolling, political extremism, camsex, online c ...more
J. Kent Messum
Can you imagine a world without the internet today? It's brought us so much, become such a staple in our lives. There is little doubt that the net is one of the most important and influential creations in our human history. But in a lot of ways we've also created a monster, a Frankenstein sewn together from so many parts of our own collective psyche, both good and bad. Author Jamie Bartlett (who is also the Director of the Center for the Analysis of Social Media) does us a great service by disse ...more
Sam Quixote
Feb 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
The Deep Web is a significant part of the internet that doesn’t show up on regular search engines and can only be accessed via TOR encrypted browsers. Probably the most famous part of the Deep Web is Silk Road which became famous for successfully selling drugs in vast quantities over the internet. The “dark internet” is dead data that can no longer be reached via computers and Darknet is a file-sharing network that’s part of the Deep Web.

I mention these distinctions because it seems that many re
Alexander Fitzgerald
Sep 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I heard a bunch of negative press for this book because it didn't delve too deeply into any one of its very interesting topics. Still, I was intrigued by the subject matter, so I gave The Dark Net a spin.

Boy, am I glad I took that chance. The Dark Net is not mindblowing, but for someone like me who didn't know 90% of what was in the book this was riveting material. His explorations of the different political factions, internet history, internet terrorist propaganda, child pornography, drug marke
Wayne Marinovich
Sep 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Wonderful, well researched book. I am busy researching a novel and wanted some info on the dark web without having to get involved in it. Well written.
Apr 04, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, 2020
This one's more of dark side of the internet than the deep web, except silkroad most of the mentioned websites are available on surface web and doesn't add much to existing knowledge, but nevertheless an engaging read. ...more
Todd N
Sep 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
Like that Cake song goes, we are “fastening our safety belts and stepping towards the ledge.” In this case the Dark Net is what we’re peering at. Depending on your disposition the Dark Net is defined as (A) that portion of the Internet only reachable via TOR, (B) that portion of the the Internet unreachable by Google’s crawlers, (C) A + B + 4chan, or (D) A + B + anything on the Internet that you feel morally superior to. Personally, I’m going with C.

Normally I avoid books by journalists writing
May 16, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fic
Have you ever spent a hard day trolling online, stopped to wonder why you spend your life pointlessly attacking people, and then felt the need to purchase some illicit drugs on the dark net to dull the pain of living in your parents’ basement? If so, this book is not for you. But for the rest of us, curious as to why internet trolls are so nasty, and how the dark net is used for all sorts of illegal activities Jamie Bartlett’s The Dark Net: Inside the Digital Underworld is an entertaining read. ...more
Nov 24, 2016 rated it liked it

This quote from the book sums up how I felt about it:

"The dark net is not black and white: it is confusing shades of gray."

I went into this book thinking -- much as the author did when researching it -- that there would be a very firm moral stance, good vs. evil. But there is no easy out here -- even the most black and white subjects on the surface turn out to be far more nuanced than expected. And, like the author, I had more questions after reading this book than before I started.

Some chapters
Aug 23, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: books-read-2015
The internet can be a wonderful thing, Full of facts, fun and cats. But all that glitters is not necessarily gold, and this is so very true with the internet. Bartlett has decided to scratch the surface of the mirror ball and see what lurks beneath.

And it isn't nice.

As he wades through the nastiest parts of the internet, he writes about trolls, the availability of illegal drugs from Silk Road, legal and illegal pornography and the use of TOR for anonymity. He meets extremists, attends a cam show
Feb 14, 2018 rated it liked it
3.5 stars -- Most proficient users of the Internet are aware that there are hidden, lesser-known areas of the web beyond the surface web content the vast majority of us stick to. This book is an explanation of the so-called deep or dark net for those who are mostly unfamiliar with it.

Many of the sites and communities Bartlett describes aren't actually on the dark web--that is, intentionally hidden sites that require a special browser to access. Rather, they are sites that most people (hopefully
The title is a bit of a misnomer, as it's not all about the actual dark net. It's about the (figurative) dark side of the internet, which definitely includes, but is not limited to, the actual dark net where you can buy drugs and hire assassins. There are chapters on trolls, webcam models, hate groups on social media, Bitcoin, child pornography, etc. The author actually bought some pot on Silk Road 2.0 to see how it works. (He found the user experience pleasant and easy.)

Basically, what you lear
Alejandro V. Betancourt
Sep 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
As an Arts and Law student (Majoring in Politics and History) I was fascinated and shocked by the concept of The Deep Dark Web. How can someone who has dedicated the last five years of his life to understanding the workings of society, regulation and governance have only a vague, if any, idea of what the dark net was before reading this book? And that points to a pervasive truth - the digital world is now a world of its own, out of sight and out of reach from governments.

The book argues quite
Ashok Krishna
Sep 10, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
We humans have always fantasized about invisibility. From being defined as one of the eight great powers attained through spiritual practices, to being depicted as the superpower of noble heroes or evil villains in movies, the power of invisibility has always ruled human imagination. Ask anybody as to what they would do if they can be invisible for a day and the answers will range from plain, simple pranking to wicked acts of violence and voyeurism. You will soon realize that it is best for the ...more
Aug 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I've been using computers for many years now and had roles in IT in various forms. It took me a while to take to the Internet - dial-up modems were not exactly conducive to making any real use of what was out there and I am not a patient soul. However by the start of this century I was making extensive use of the Internet both personally and for work and have continued to do so ever since. I often heard things about "the other internet" and was aware of TOR for concealing your presence (in a sen ...more
Oct 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
Evenhanded and illuminating--had trouble putting it down.
Jul 19, 2017 rated it liked it
Porn, slut shaming, the Silk Road/ Ross Ulbricht, professional trollers who make a game of it, and the other less savory aspects of the internet, dubbed the Dark Net, are all covered in this book. I am not sure if this book wasn't captivating in its own right or I simply wasn't captivated because I had recently finished Nick Bilton's American Kingpin, with which this book cannot hope to compare. Even though Bilton's account of the Dark Net has a much narrower focus, Ross Ulbricht's Silk Road, an ...more
Jan 08, 2021 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: wishlist
Found this to be a good starting point for anyone interested in the subject matter, I was kind of hoping for a more in-depth covering over a few topics, but will look into the references Bartlett listed for further reading. His style of reporting was engaging and kept my interest throughout. I did have some moments of pause in discussing some matters of trolls/racists etc and essentially where it was kind of like oh the Neo-Nazi, not so bad a bloke (I understand, but it still hits a little funny ...more
Aug 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
A fascinating books covering online issues rarely examined yet profoundly important - the growth of radical political entities, online drug markets, and the democratisation of pornography. Bartlett meets with some of the actors behind the scenes who have some unlikely tales to tell. He then relates these stories back to us through the greater lens of human history and psychology, remaining surprisingly non-judgemental throughout. It's stretched a little thinly over the length of a novel, but thi ...more
Dec 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
Interesting disclosure of the internet's dark underbelly. Read it quick, it's already out of date. ...more
Jan 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I did not think when I bought this intriguing book about the hidden faces of the Internet that I would relate it to my three previous blogposts. The world is dangerous, the physical world is dangerous as we all know and as it was confirmed in Paris last week (A tribute on Jan. 8, We are all sad on Jan. 7). It is also known that the online world may be dangerous as illustrated by Jamie Bartlett in The Dark Net. I am not sure that the authors of How The Web Was Born (Dec. 2) had envisioned such po ...more
Mary Overton
From the conclusion:
"When I first started writing this book, I had in mind something of an expose. That I would lift the lid on the seedy underbelly of hidden internet subcultures, revealing the dangers of life online. I was prepared (maybe I even hoped?) to be indignant and outraged. I imagined this book would conclude with a series of very clear moral declarations: drug market places are unequivocally dangerous. Suicide forums are indisputably harmful. Neo-Nazis are evil. Convicted child sex o
Sep 15, 2017 rated it did not like it
Skip it.
Should have been called "People Being Naughty Online". Chapters include: sex cam workers, pro anorexia/eating disorder communities, self harm communities. The guys "Dark Net" experience is that he was able to connect to a marketplace via Tor and order marijuana. Regular news reports after the Dread Pirate Roberts/Silk Road raid include more interesting dark net information than this...

The actual chapters were:

1. A history of flaming and trolling going back to Arpanet, including the pract
Magnus // Well-Read Rebel
3.5 stars.
Wow, took me a long time to finish this book as I left huge gaps between reading it. I guess that means it's NOT unputdownable! But it definitely was very interesting. The dark side of the net is a crazy place and this book even got me to download the TOR browser and take a quick glance for myself. I didn't explore deeply at all as don't want police units busting down my door! Just pure curiosity to see that it is really there. Well, yes, the dark net is really there folks.

The invention of non-
John Devlin
May 27, 2016 rated it it was ok
(2.5)Not as in-depth as I would have liked. Bartlett simply motors through the various vices the internet abets: drugs, pornography, bullying. While Dark Net reveals much of what goes on in chat rooms dedicated to pro-anexoria and suicide, the book never mines much new material or engages in how the internet functions at these levels.

At the end, Bartlett comes to the rather obvious conclusion that the Internet is a reflection of ourselves; a tool that can be used for good or ill.
Jul 21, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An amazing introduction not only to the darker reaches of the Internet but also to the history of the Internet and modern computing and the ongoing innovations and philosophies that keep us possibly more free and possibly human.
Pavol Luptak
Oct 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
Probably the first try to describe 'radical' cryptoanarchists from the classic 'democrat' point of view and remain resistant to their thoughts :) ...more
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Jamie Bartlett is a journalist and tech blogger for The Telegraph and Director of The Centre for the Analysis of Social Media for Demos in conjunction with The University of Sussex.

In 2013, he covered the rise of Beppe Grillo's Five Star Movement in Italy for Demos, chronicling the new political force's emergence and use of social media.

In 2014, he released The Dark Net, discussing the darknet and

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  As dedicated readers already know, some of the best and most innovative stories on the shelves come from the constantly evolving realm of...
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“Creating our own realities is nothing new, but now it’s easier than ever to become trapped in echo chambers of our own making.” 5 likes
“Part of living in a free society is accepting that no idea is beyond being challenged or ridiculed, and that nothing is more stifling to free expression than being afraid to upset or offend.” 3 likes
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