Cheese Pizza and The Dark Web
The emergence of the internet and its pervasiveness has changed many things about our society. As the internet has become a larger part of our lives, streamlining business as well as personal activities, it has also developed many dark holes for criminals to hide. These users tend to stay on the dark web, hidden from plain sight, however more recently they are becoming more daring and can be seen on popular websites. You may not even notice them, as they’ve developed many code words to communicate to each other with.
These “dark holes” in the internet, or the dark web, has evolved even faster than the internet we all know and use. It has been used for seemingly innocent interactions, all the way to the worst crimes you can imagine. Most of these crimes take place in online marketplaces. These market places disappear as fast as they come.
One of the largest of these market places, The Silk Road, was only in operation for 2 years before being shut down by the FBI. Its predecessor, The Silk Road v2, lasted only a year. That didn’t slow down the dark web at all, as the next marketplace, Alphabay, popped up shortly after. Alphabay managed to surpass The Silk Road, with the owners making over 23 million from running the site over the 3 years it was online.
These dark web market places are only available through Tor, a router used to increase anonymity by passing your web traffic through different servers all over the world, which makes it harder to track users. However, it’s not impossible to find users information, as well as information on who’s running these sites. Because of these users have started to be even more cautious when committing illegal acts. They use code words, hide in plain sight, and often require some sort of verification before doing business with unknown sites or people.
Code words are used to attract the interest of like-minded individuals without alerting the police or regular web users. The words can indicate what a person is looking for, if they are buying or selling, or what communities they are apart of. These code words have been around as long as internet forms and chat rooms. One code word that has come to light recently is “cheese pizza” often depicted as a cheese and pizza emoji. It is used to refer to child pornography, as they both share the same initials “cp”. Many social media accounts can look harmless from the outside, however once you take a closer look under a different lens things change dramatically.
For example, many social media pages are dedicated to posting things like “The worlds most beautiful children” that may look normal. Taking a closer look, you may start to see these code words or emojis littering the page, as well as the comments on their posts. These people go a step further by following children that have become famous. Child stars and athletes all have these code words in their comment sections, and their followers accounts. Some parents of non-famous children have also reported photos of their children being taken from their social medias and posted on “child appreciating pages” with an alarming number of inappropriate comments.
The boldness of these predators is only increasing. While there’s not much a normal person can do to take down a dark web marketplace, we can take steps to control the issue. Its important that these profiles be reported whenever seen, and to keep in mind any codes they may be using.
If you are posting pictures online, make sure your account is private and only trusted individuals are allowed to follow it.