This is the second blog post in a two-part series on how investigators can and should be using Reddit in their online work. Read out first post, Reddit It Is.
Reddit requires no subscription and does not monitor activity—real benefits for the investigator. When you visit the Reddit website, you’ll notice the many subreddits listed on the opening webpage. The landing page is busy with content on the left, and ads on the right. Once you get into the flow of scrolling through the topics, it will feel as simple as scrolling through email. First-listed topics on Reddit are trending subreddits.
Kittens & the Dark Web
To view a subreddit board, click on a topic headline. You will see in the URL box: www.reddit.com/r/<topicyou-clicked-on>. For example, the subreddit www.reddit.com/r/aww/ is full of photos of warm and fuzzy images, such as babies, puppies, kittens, police officers rescuing babies, puppies, kittens, etc.
Two popular subreddit boards used to locate Dark Web content and marketplaces are www.reddit.com/r/DarkWebLinks/ and, for beginners, www.reddit.com/r/DarknetMarketsnoobs. At the top of the webpage, on the left-hand side next to the logo and the topic, you’ll see subdirectories of the subreddit (e.g., Hot, New, Rising, Controversial, Top, etc.), drawing focus to items that may merit attention. Also, near the top of the webpage, on the right-hand side, you’ll see a search box followed by the subreddit title, subscribe/unsubscribe button, the number of readers subscribed, and the number on the board at the moment. Under it is a description of the board, maybe some advertisement, extra content, the disclaimer, and the rules of the board.
To find relevant info, use the search box in the upper right. The search box allows you to check/uncheck NSFW (Not Safe for Work) results—i.e., content may be inappropriate for children and/or a mixed environment. Cruise the pages for items of interest and decide what would be on your board. Keep an open mind for topics; you will see serious news reporting (r/news) right alongside wacky news (r/newsoftheweird).
Reddit gets its information from everywhere. Some boards are populated with links from other websites and social media boards. Other boards can have content generated by subscribers. For example, the subscribers of those boards find something of interest and post it in the subreddit, starting with other news or websites. A search on the name of the NBC anchor Hoda Kotb showed many links, some from the websites of NBC and CNN plus other news websites. You will also see threads started by subscribers via Reddit, Twitter, Facebook, and some with no attributions.
The posts can be sorted by relevance (top, new, comments) and time of post (past hour, 24 hours, week, month, year, or all). You can search within the subreddit board, but you can also click through and search within the subreddit on the board itself. If you visit the board reddit.com/r/truthleaks and place your cursor in the Search box, the option to limit my search to r/truthleaks will be offered in a popdown.
Join Reddit by creating an account (see the teeny, tiny “Log in or sign up” at the uppermost right-hand corner of the screen). You can subscribe to a subreddit by clicking on the green Subscribe button. Your subscribed subreddits will be the initial boards listed across the top of your Reddit homepage.
As noted in our previous blog post, posts on all subreddits are arranged according to how many upvotes they’ve received. Keep in mind, however, that Reddit will also give recent posts a prominent place in the feed in order to give them a chance to be seen and voted on.
You’ve just found a post on a subreddit that will help you put the pieces of a puzzle together in an important Dark Web investigation. The phone rings. You step away from your computer. You return. The post is gone!
Reddit users can (and do) delete content from subreddit boards. Check out Hg’s Cybertip of the Week to learn how you can recover deleted content!
Register now for our November 2018 Webinar: Dark Web Undercover to get all Hg’s tips on navigating Reddit and more. Follow us on Twitter @HetheringtonGrp to get our read our weekly blog posts.