Online Black-Markets: An Investigation of a Digital Infrastructure in the Dark

This paper investigates the functioning of Online Black-Markets (OBMs), i.e. a digital infrastructure operating in the Dark Net that enables the exchange of illegal goods such as drugs, weapons and fake digital identities.

OBMs exist notwithstanding adverse conditions such as police interventions, scams and market breakdowns. Relying on a longitudinal case study, we focus on the dynamics of interactions among actors and marketplace technologies and we identify three mechanisms explaining OBMs operations. In particular, we show that OBMs infrastructure is the result of commoditization, platformization and resilience processes.

Our contribution relies on the identification of community-based mechanisms that generate the OBMs infrastructure, extending the current understanding of e-commerce and social commerce.

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