Recent research has suggested that there are clear differences in the language used in the Dark Web compared to that of the Surface Web. As studies on the Dark Web commonly require textual analysis of the domain, language models specific to the Dark Web may provide valuable insights to researchers. In this work, we introduce DarkBERT, a language model pretrained on Dark Web data. We describe the steps taken to filter and compile the text data used to train DarkBERT to combat the extreme lexical and structural diversity of the Dark Web that may be detrimental to building a proper representation of the domain. We evaluate DarkBERT and its vanilla counterpart along with other widely used language models to validate the benefits that a Dark Web domain specific model offers in various use cases. Our evaluations show that DarkBERT outperforms current language models and may serve as a valuable resource for future research on the Dark Web.
The hidden nature and the limited accessibility of the Dark Web, combined with the lack of public datasets in this domain, make it difficult to study its inherent characteristics such as linguistic properties. Previous works on text classification of Dark Web domain have suggested that the use of deep neural models may be ineffective, potentially due to the linguistic differences between the Dark and Surface Webs. However, not much work has been done to uncover the linguistic characteristics of the Dark Web. This paper introduces CoDA, a publicly available Dark Web dataset consisting of 10000 web documents tailored towards text-based Dark Web analysis. By leveraging CoDA, we conduct a thorough linguistic analysis of the Dark Web and examine the textual differences between the Dark Web and the Surface Web. We also assess the performance of various methods of Dark Web page classification. Finally, we compare CoDA with an existing public Dark Web dataset and evaluate their suitability for various use cases.