Centre for Research in Communication and Culture


16 May 2018

Thais Sarda (Loughborough University) - Constructing the Dark Side of the Web: representation of Deep Web systems and users in British newspapers

Presented By Thais Sarda, Loughborough University
  • 1:00-2:00 pm CRCC Seminar Series
  • WAV 0.44 Waving Top Building

About this event

The recent expansion of surveillance practices over the internet, for both government and corporations, has affected individual online behaviour leading regular users to adopt privacy enhancing technologies such as Tor Network, the most known Deep Web browser, as a protective measure. Tor allows users to have online anonymity through a system of encrypted access and communication, reassuring the right of privacy and allowing a level of online freedom on every-day experiences, such as research sensitive topics or send emails. However, the practice of pursuit of an anonymous connection is constantly associated by British media to criminal appropriations, such as terrorism, paedophilia, and drug addiction. At the same time, the discussion about surveillance practices boundaries and the right of privacy on the internet is regularly disregarded by media. In this sense, this paper addresses how newspapers in the United Kingdom represent Deep Web, and in which extent the use of Tor Network is associated to a reaction to surveillance practices, privacy issues, and authoritarian state censorship. This study also reflects on Tor Network representation, describing and discussing the concepts associated with the system, and how users are commonly portrayed and described. Consequently, it allows unveiling how the imaginary of the Deep Web, and also its user, is constructed on media daily coverage in the UK. For that, this work applies content analysis to 500 articles published overtime in five higher circulation newspapers with distinct political views – Daily Mail, Daily Mirror, The Guardian, The Sun, and The Times. The initial findings indicate: how Deep Web is conceptualized, including chosen term, definition, and associated adjectives; how Tor Network users are usually referred to; in which extent newspapers link these systems to surveillance practices and/or illegal activities; which are the preferred newspaper’s sources and how they describe these systems; among other relevant data.