Major Darknet Social Media Site and Admin Lameth Gone for Good?

For the last few weeks, regular members of the popular Galaxy2 (or G2 to the regulars) darknet social media site on Tor, have been anxiously awaiting to hear the cause of the site’s unexplained week-long downtime. Rumors circulated across darknet and IRC chatrooms that site was under DDoS after G2’s hidden service initially gave a 502 Bad Gateway error and then was unresponsive thereafter.

Thursday night, after refreshing the hidden service, yet another time to see if it was back up, members were shocked to see a bittersweet update from the site Admin: Lameth.

  Figure        SEQ Figure \* ARABIC     1       - What remains of G2 hidden service (26 Oct 17, Source: http://w363zoq3ylux5rf5[.]onion)

Figure 1 - What remains of G2 hidden service (26 Oct 17, Source: http://w363zoq3ylux5rf5[.]onion)

It turns out the DDoS rumors were all conspiracy. In fact, the server hosting G2 suffered a catastrophic hardware failure, leading Lameth to announce that he “failed the community” in his duty as host and admin in not regularly backing up the server’s data. Hence his comment, "Galaxy2 is not coming back anytime soon" (Figure 1). He furthers that even if G2’s site data could be somehow salvaged, that this is the end for him as an administrator and site host.

What is G2?

The original “Galaxy” Tor-based social network was founded and run by an admin named Krueger. Galaxy2, created by the one called, “Lameth”, was a “reincarnation” of the original site, which disappeared without warning or explanation, like many a Tor hidden service. Lameth was well known for establishing DarkNexus Chat 5.0, a web-based IRC-like chat room with HTTP refresh; Javascript not-required.

  Figure       SEQ Figure \* ARABIC
   2 - DarkNexus Chat Description by Lameth (2015, Source:  DarkOwl Vision )

Figure 2 - DarkNexus Chat Description by Lameth (2015, Source: DarkOwl Vision)

What was G2 like?

  Figure       SEQ Figure \* ARABIC    3 - Sample Galaxy2 Profile Page

Figure 3 - Sample Galaxy2 Profile Page

G2 imported many of the features of mainstream social media such as Facebook and Twitter and was considered more modern and user-friendly than the 1980s-era like bulletin board systems across the rest of Tor. Members could customize their profile page, using their darknet pseudonym, or “alias,” add photos, upload files, create blog posts, and comment on posts made by other members. The site also supported a private message system for sending and receiving mail from other members as well as an instant message, or chat utility between site “friends.” The advanced features required Javascript and were often underutilized by members.

G2 facilitated a variety of member groups, ranging from hackers to political activist, darknet newbies and feminists to a group dedicated to sharing recipes. Most groups were open to all members, unless it was by invite-only -- very similar to Facebook groups on the Clearnet. Popular groups included “The Café at the End of the Internet”, “Deepest Onion Links”, and “OPSEC”, where members could openly discuss the technical specifics on how to remain anonymous on the darknet as well as share links of interest across Tor.  

 
  Figure       SEQ Figure \* ARABIC    4       - Popular Groups on Galaxy2

Figure 4 - Popular Groups on Galaxy2

 

Lameth offered no safe haven for the some 20,000 lost users of G2, but encouraged members to consider other darknet social media hidden services and chat services. TorBook and Blackbook are considered the next best alternatives, but some users say Blackbook poorly regulates users posting illicit content involving minors and TorBook, which looks exactly like Facebook, has advertisements on the main activity wall, cluttering up the user experience.

 
  Figure       SEQ Figure \* ARABIC    5 -       Login screen for TorBook Social Media Site

Figure 5 - Login screen for TorBook Social Media Site

 

In an interview in 2014, shortly after the debut of G2, founder Lameth commented on the importance of social media, internet privacy and the anonymity that Tor provides.

I believe that people should be allowed to interact with each other without the fear of persecution or other risks to their person. Not everyone is sharing that privilege. A social network on the dark web can provide this; it can be a platform for exchanging ideas, debating point of views, and help expand people’s knowledge and understanding of other cultures.

But really, Tor is about freedom. It’s about the freedom to express yourself without fearing the government imprisoning you or worse. It’s about being able to surf the Internet without being subjected to traffic analyzing, surveillance, or censorship. Tor also helps the young girl in some oppressive regime to tell her story, and report on the real situation of her village, or the gay man to meet other people without fearing death squad and raids, or the whistleblower to contact journalists with confidential information about how the government or an enterprise are violating human rights and constitutional law
— Andrew Lameth, "Socializing the Dark Web"

While many believe that the darknet is full of the most heinous of criminals, selling fentanyl and abusing children, darknets, such as Tor and i2p, also facilitate the simplicity of connecting people anonymously, many from countries with oppressive governments that block Clearnet social media sites like Facebook. Galaxy2 will be sorely missed and DarkOwl will keep you informed if and when a comparable hidden service surfaces.