true stories The Most Disturbing Things You'll Find on the Dark Web

Christopher Shultz
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If you're not in the know, you might be asking, "What is the deep web?" Also known as the "dark net" (this latter term is, in fact, more accurate) and primarily accessed through the Tor network, the deep web is basically the 21st century black market. It's also an anonymous "playground" for content that's illegal or unsuitable for the "clearnet" (the everyday Internet). It is largely untraceable (though not completely) and is perhaps most widely used for the sale of illegal substances.

Beyond drugs, some use the deep web to buy and sell firearms and other weapons. But perhaps most alarming of all, some use it to exchange or discuss child pornography, cryptically referred to as "cheese pizza." (The "C" and "P" heading each word explains this code word.) 

While these illegal and downright sickening aspects of the deep web are unsettling in and of themselves, the deep web's reputation as a playground for hedonism, depravity, and nefarious or sinister acts is a bit unfounded. Aside from questionable pornographic content and illegal sales, much of the content accessed via Tor is fairly innocuous. Several Reddit threads corroborate this, as users encountered mostly mundane forums and load times so slow they lost patience before every really seeing anything. (Read a few of those threads herehere and here.)

And yet, while they are certainly the exceptions and not the rule, there are a handful of deep web stories out there that manage to baffle, disturb, and even sicken. True, some of the more disturbing content on the dark net is the stuff of rumor and lore, but this doesn't make it any less creepy -- particularly when considering that, while they have not been proven to exist, they have not been disproven either.  

Daisy's Destruction


Daisy's Destruction is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Most Disturbing Things You'll Find on the Dark Web
Photo: Manila Police
It's difficult to separate fact from urban legend here, since having detailed knowledge of sadistic Australian child pornographer Peter Scully's videos would basically be an admission of committing a crime.  

What is clear is that "Daisy's Destruction" (sometimes called "The Destruction of Daisy") are extreme and brutal videos, available only in the darkest corners of the deep web, featuring children as young as two years old being tortured, assaulted, and in some cases, murdered by Scully and various accomplices.  

If you are so inclined, you can find descriptions of these videos around the web. But Scully is now in prison and his utterly sickening videos are now the property of the FBI, so it's safe to assume most of the finer details still available are mere rumor. Still, the very fact these videos exist in the first place is enough to churn your stomach.

8Chan's Baphomet Subboard


8Chan's Baphomet Subboard is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Most Disturbing Things You'll Find on the Dark Web
Photo: Wikimedia
If you're familiar with GamerGate, you've likely heard about 8chan, the forum and message board site where "anything goes," more or less. And if you know about GamerGate, you're probably all too familiar with the term "doxing," a process of temporarily making certain individuals' personal information (home address, phone number, email, etc.) available in order to harass them. (As part of GamerGate, sexist gamers targeted women in the video game industry for this kind of harassment.)

The Baphomet subboard is the place where most doxing takes place, as it is seated within the dark net, and thus harder to trace. Users of the subboard go one step further by posting the personal information for a brief period of time, then deleting it. This allows those in the know to obtain the information anonymously and use it instigate vicious attacks.

Cruel Onion Wiki


Cruel Onion Wiki is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Most Disturbing Things You'll Find on the Dark Web
Photo:  Jan-Mallander/Pixabay/CC0 1.0
There's an old saying: "If you can think of it, it's probably a fetish." This adage proves true for many deplorable and inhuman acts, like child pornography, of course, but also for the things happening on the Cruel Onion Wiki. It's a dark web site that features scantily-clad or semi-nude women crushing and killing small animals - including kittens - under their feet.  

Animal cruelty laws prevent such sites from operating above the radar, and the Cruel Onion Wiki has been shut down on a few occasions. However, much like the rest of the dark net, the site always manages to resurface under a different name or URL.

Pink Meth


Pink Meth is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Most Disturbing Things You'll Find on the Dark Web
Photo: via YouTube
Fortunately, Pink Meth is a website that was hosted on the dark net, until it was seized by the FBI in 2014. Despite the name, the site had nothing to do with drugs. Rather, Pink Meth was a market mainly for men, whereby they could sell nude photos of their exes for a hefty sum. Pink Meth then posted these photos, alongside the women's names, home addresses, phone numbers, and any other information the operators could dig up. Then, a ransom on the content was delivered to the victim - pay up to have the photo removed, or let the whole of the dark web have access to your personal information, including your nude photos.  

Violent Desires


Violent Desires is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Most Disturbing Things You'll Find on the Dark Web
Photo: Universal Pictures
The name of this forum, which is purported to still exist as of 2016, pretty much describes what you might find there: people sharing their most gruesome and brutal desires. Perhaps the most infamous example is a post written by an anonymous doctor who offered to "manufacture" living child sex dolls through a combination of human torture, experimentation, and body modification.  

While it is likely that Violent Desires is mostly just fantasy, the Armin Miewes cannibalism case - where a derange man killed and ate a voluntary victim he found online - arose from a "clearnet" (regular, everyday) Internet forum called The Cannibal Cafe, where users shared their sexual "appetites" with one another. It just goes to show that in an anonymous place, anything can happen.

Sad Satan


Ranker Video v
Video: YouTube
Reportedly only downloadable via the Tor network, Sad Satan is a perplexing and psychologically unnerving game with completely mysterious origins. The graphics, from a purely technical standpoint, are subpar, and the gameplay is seemingly pointless - you spend a fair amount of time simply wandering down surreal and abstract hallways.  

However, the screeching audio soundtrack, which sounds like the rejects from Lou Reed's Metal Machine Music sessions, quite effectively crawls under your skin. There are also arcane hidden images and videos that emerge the longer you play, and clips that seem to hint at murders being committed by people in masks. Is this all just random, atmospheric spooks, or is there a deeper meaning here?  

As of this writing, Sad Satan is no longer downloadable. Fortunately, YouTube provides us a glimpse into its truly unnerving gameplay.

Red Rooms


Red Rooms is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Most Disturbing Things You'll Find on the Dark Web
Photo: Universal Pictures
If you've seen the David Cronenberg film Videodrome, you understand the basic concept of a red room. Essentially, it's a live feed of people being tortured and killed in highly perverse ways. Some even speculate that, for a price, you can act as the "director" of the red room, and tell the torturer exactly what to do to the victim.  

The thing is --  if you can locate a red room easily, it probably isn't real. The appeal of the deep web is its anonymity, so if something as perverse as a red room actually exists, it is doubtful the orchestrators would put out a welcome mat. Moreover, if you've genuinely witnessed a red room on the deep web, you wouldn't necessarily admit it. Otherwise you'd be headed to jail.

All that said, the existence of a genuine red room is not that implausible.

Cicada 3301


Cicada 3301 is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Most Disturbing Things You'll Find on the Dark Web
Photo: via YouTube
No one is really sure of the purpose behind Cicada 3301. It's a group that hosts an annual, Internet-based puzzle that involves mystery telephone numbers, voice messages, and GPS coordinates, and dips into the dark web via the Tor network. There isn't enough room here to go into the intricacies of the puzzle, but you can read a pretty thorough breakdown of the steps here, from one man who came the closest to actually solving it.  

Is Cicada 3301 a secret government recruiting tool? An anarchist or anti-establishment group looking for the savviest of members? Simply a hoax? The world may never know.