Marketing a Portal to Darkness
Much of the internet community is buzzing about Silk Road, the illegal drugs website that was just shut down by the FBI. For the most part, plenty of the discussions were typically heated debates regarding America’s War on Drugs, legalization, criminal activity on the net etc.
Following that though were discussions about what enabled Silk Road to exist in the first place. This would be the first time I’ve ever heard of the Deep Web and what it means to market access to it.
You might be wondering, who in their right mind would want to promote entrance into something shady? It’s like the Deep Web is the real world, internet equivalent to a fictional Dark World.
Marketing a Portal to DarknessWell for one thing, it’s the tool that was used to access Silk Road (and to an extent, the part of the Deep Web it resided in): Tor.
Short for The Onion Router, Tor was one of those tools originally intended to protect those who didn’t want their online activity tracked (e.g. journalists, activists in troubled countries, witnesses etc).
It does have a second function, one that enabled the creation of Silk Road. Tor doesn’t just mask internet activity but also offers its own ‘dimension’ for websites that don’t wish to be found on your typical search engine.
This was where you’ll usually find an abuse. But then again, what technology hasn’t been abused in a similar fashion?
More importantly though, it’s when a major abuse is exposed that marketers have to act. What if your own SCM or accounting technology was misused just like Tor?
Cut affiliations before they sprout. When illegal use of your technology makes the news, the standard response is to say you are not affiliated. In fact, don’t just say it. Stress it. Use the disclaimer as a sort of footnote in marketing materials like your FAQ page or Terms of Service agreements.
Condemn the illegal actions. You can further prove no affiliation by condemning the criminal activity that was involved. Use PRs, blogs, and social networks to raise your voice, saying that you do not condone the use of your technology for illicit purposes (like trafficking, hiring hitmen etc).
Stress on intended purposes. If you say that your technology was meant only for certain business practices or purposes, that’s another thing you need to stress. Highlight the vision and missions statement you made for your technology (just as the Tor project highlights its mission to protect those in dire need of internet anonymity).
If it makes you feel any better though, this wasn’t the first time a piece of technology was favored by the bad guys. Despite Tor’s intentions, one research shows that the shady reputation of the Deep Web still outshines the one it was gunning for.
That doesn’t mean it has given up and neither should you.
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