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Deep Web: What is the deep web?


What is the Deep Web?

The term "deep web" refers to what you cannot find with typical search engines like Google, Yahoo, or Bing. These search engines use "web crawlers" or "spider bots" to search what is called "the surface web." The surface web refers to sites that are publicly available, such as public social media accounts, news sites, shopping sites, blogs, etc. Databases like the ones the Pumerantz Library subscribes to are an example of the deep web because they are not publicly accessible. 

Note: The deep web is not to be confused with the dark web. While the terms are are often used interchangeably, they're not really the same thing. The dark web is a small portion of the deep web that is only accessible through special software that allows users and website operators to remain anonymous and untraceable - which is why the dark web is often associated with illegal activity. 


  • Deep web (also called Hidden Web, Invisible Web, Secret Web): Information on the internet that cannot be accessed by traditional search engines. 
  • Web Page: A document on the web with a single, unique web address
  • Web Site: A group of web pages created by an individual, group, or organization
  • Spider/Web Crawler: A bot that systematically browses the internet for the purpose of indexing information. You can learn more about web crawlers at Google's page explaining how Search organizes information.
  • Surface Web (also called Visible Web or Indexable Web): The portion of the internet that is publicly available and searchable by typical search engines
  • Dark Web: A small portion of the deep web that frequently associated with illegal activity because is only accessible through special software that keeps users and website operators anonymous and their activity untraceable. Don't go there. 
  • Paywall: A website where access is restricted to users who have paid to subscribe to the site. Most of the databases you have access to through the Pumerantz Library are "behind the paywall." 

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