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A Broad Evaluation of the Tor English Content Ecosystem

by   Mahdieh Zabihimayvan, et al.
Wright State University
Georgia Southern University

Tor is among most well-known dark net in the world. It has noble uses, including as a platform for free speech and information dissemination under the guise of true anonymity, but may be culturally better known as a conduit for criminal activity and as a platform to market illicit goods and data. Past studies on the content of Tor support this notion, but were carried out by targeting popular domains likely to contain illicit content. A survey of past studies may thus not yield a complete evaluation of the content and use of Tor. This work addresses this gap by presenting a broad evaluation of the content of the English Tor ecosystem. We perform a comprehensive crawl of the Tor dark web and, through topic and network analysis, characterize the types of information and services hosted across a broad swath of Tor domains and their hyperlink relational structure. We recover nine domain types defined by the information or service they host and, among other findings, unveil how some types of domains intentionally silo themselves from the rest of Tor. We also present measurements that (regrettably) suggest how marketplaces of illegal drugs and services do emerge as the dominant type of Tor domain. Our study is the product of crawling over 1 million pages from 20,000 Tor seed addresses, yielding a collection of over 150,000 Tor pages. We make a dataset of the intend to make the domain structure publicly available as a dataset at


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