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ProPublica is the first big news site optimized for the dark web

News organization launches as a Tor hidden service to offer extra privacy protection for those who need it

ProPublica has become the first major news organization to launch a version of its site on the dark web, catering to readers who need or prefer to stay anonymous online. As Wired reports, the publication launched as a "hidden service" on the Tor anonymity network on Wednesday, guaranteeing readers that internet service providers or other snoops won't even be able to see that they've visited the site.

Users could always anonymously access ProPublica through a Tor browser, but not all of the publication's pages are protected with SSL encryption, leaving open the possibility that eavesdroppers could see what content they look at. Even if a user doesn't visit a non-encrypted ProPublica page, others could still see that they had visited the site. Operating as a hidden service negates those risks, the news outlet says. Tor hidden services mask a website's IP address, and can only be used when running Tor software.

"We don’t want anyone to know that you came to us or what you read."

"Everyone should have the ability to decide what types of metadata they leave behind," ProPublica developer Mike Tigas tells Wired. "We don’t want anyone to know that you came to us or what you read."

The dark web news site Deep Dot Web has long operated as a Tor hidden service, and Facebook launched its own dark web version in 2014, but ProPublica is the first major media organization to follow suit. Tigas says the project was inspired by ProPublica's reporting on web censorship in China, which he wanted Chinese users to read with complete security. He hopes the service will allow future leakers to see the results of their work, as well.