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Red room

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A red room is a composite urban legend. It is allegedly a hidden website or service on the "Deep Web" where you can see and/or participate in interactive torture or murder. It is essentially the snuff film legend retold for the YouTube era. It is similar to other moral panics involving the so-called Deep Web in that it was made popular by uncritical reports provided by both traditional and social media. The phenomenon is an example of the Woozle effectWikipedia's W.svg where publications are continuously built upon misleading citations. According to Eric Pudalov, Tech writer and researcher, Red rooms do not exist, "It's near-impossible to stream live video over the Tor network (or even other anonymity networks like I2P and Freenet). So, that would render a service like a red room (i.e. a site that streams live torture and murder) impossible, and certainly not profitable."[1] According to Pudalov, websites presenting themselves as red rooms are in fact scams aiming at stealing bitcoins. However, videos with illegal and ultra — violent content such as Peter Scully's one can be found on the dark net.[1]

Conceptual predecessors in film and TV[edit]

A Blue 'Red Room' from the film 'Chatroom'.
  • The 1983 film VideodromeWikipedia's W.svg featured a segment where a news channel 'tunes in' to an apparent live satellite feed of military interrogation torture taking place in a room with red walls, which sends the protagonists on a journey that leads them to question the difference between reality and television.
  • Found footage pseudo-documentariesWikipedia's W.svg helped continue the trend, starting with the notorious exploitation film Cannibal HolocaustWikipedia's W.svg (1980). The Last BroadcastWikipedia's W.svg (1998) would mix IRC into real-time murder investigations. The genre was popularized by The Blair Witch Project (1999), which spawned meta discussions as to whether the events depicted were actually real.
  • The 1998 British TV mini-series Killer NetWikipedia's W.svg, as well as films like FeardotComWikipedia's W.svg in 2002 and UntraceableWikipedia's W.svg in 2008, would feature scenarios to do with logging onto a website and participating in murder.
  • In 2008, Daisuke YamanouchiWikipedia's W.svg released Red RoomWikipedia's W.svg 1 and 2, featured elements visited before in the likes of The Running ManWikipedia's W.svg mixed with SawWikipedia's W.svg. The films were dark satires about a reality TV game show in which contestants complete an increasingly degrading and gruesome set of tasks for the audience's pleasure.[2] The earlier 2006 Thai horror comedy film 13 BelovedWikipedia's W.svg covered similar ground.
  • The 2010 British film ChatroomWikipedia's W.svg dealt with bullying, internet suicideWikipedia's W.svg, and chat rooms at around the time when cyber-bullying and grooming were attracting mainstream attention.
  • Also from 2010, the short-lived science fiction series CapricaWikipedia's W.svg featured a virtual reality-based voyeuristic murder club.[3] This environment, explored by apparently naive school girls, elicited concern from characters within the series, reflecting contemporary society's anxiety over uncensored internet content and youth.
  • Popular 2011 fan fiction and later film adaptation Fifty Shades of GreyWikipedia's W.svg features a red room for consensual erotic BDSM activities.
  • In 2015's Avengers: Age of UltronWikipedia's W.svg, the red room is the name of the secret location where Black Widow was trained as a child to be a spy for the KGB; graduation consisted of surgical sterilization to remove the distraction of reproduction.

The name "Red Room" may also be a pun on "redrum", the backwards spelling of "murder" (made famous by Stephen King's The ShiningWikipedia's W.svg and its film adaptation).

On the internet[edit]

Do you like —?

In the early 2000s, the Red Room animationWikipedia's W.svg went live, becoming infamous in Japanese internet communities for a popup it produced asking 'Do you like —?' This was further cemented into the Japanese consciousness by the real life Sasebo slashingWikipedia's W.svg perpetrated by a girl who had played the game.

Chain lettersWikipedia's W.svg, chain emailsWikipedia's W.svg and viral Facebook images have often promised deadly consequences for the recipient or a another person should they fail to pass on their message within the specified constraints.[4] And yes, this has been made into a film tooWikipedia's W.svg.

Live streamed suicides such as on the now defunct justin.tv used to create media coverage in the mid-late 2000's.[5]

In August 2015, Facebook and Twitter's default video player settings led for many users to witness a murder uploaded by its perpetrator just minutes after it had occurred due to the platform's autoplay settings.[6]

The role of social media and suicideWikipedia's W.svg is increasingly in the news, associated with online bullying, trolling and voyeuristic elements, as well as some interventionist involvement. Directed harassment of this nature may be known as CyberbullicideWikipedia's W.svg.[7]

Both Periscope[8] and Facebook live streaming have featured such use.[9] In 2016, Facebook live was even used by terrorists for a propaganda broadcast.[10]

Why people look for this stuff[edit]

Oliver & Raney, 2011 discuss several reasons individuals may generally seek out negative content, including fulfilling cathartic and purging needs, making downward social comparisons, maintaining bad moods, and learning information that may ultimately help one deal with negative or unhappy circumstances.[11]

In June 2014 psychologist Bridget Rubenking of the University of Florida attached released a study into the different forms of disgust, its involvement in memory formation and the psycho-physiological responses elicited. The study distinguished between 3 types of disgust, socio-moral such as betrayal, humiliation or racism (which varies somewhat by culture[12]), body product and death, and 'body envelope violation' (gore). Undergraduates were shown representative clips of media whilst having their heart rates, sweat and facial expressions measured.

It determined socio-moral disgust varied in a number of different ways such as eliciting a slower reaction likely due to the increased neural processing required. Additionally increased attentiveness and 'defensive' physiological response were detected.[13][14] Lowered memory of the events before the point of disgust elicitation and increased following were also reported as the fight of flight 'freeze' response is initiated.

As such it's hypothesied that people have various motivations to seek out disturbing content, real or otherwise and that use of disgust in media and increase its engagement potential.[13]

To borrow the words of the Internet axiom: "What has been seen cannot be unseen".[15]

Contemporary influences[edit]

With the rise of social media jihadists, beheadingsWikipedia's W.svg of western journalists by ISIS were increasingly in the news, videos spreading simply via Twitter and basic social media channels, have created a sickening association between the internet and images of gruesome death. Technology has even reached a point whereby murder has been live streamed to Facebook.[16] From Rotten.com to contemporary sites like Know Your MemeWikipedia's W.svg[15], people are increasingly obsessed with seeing death on the internet.[17]

Lurid tales of hitman services and human experimentation combined with the reality of darknet marketsWikipedia's W.svg and child porn sites created a new substrate for a meme to be reborn.

In internet pop culture[edit]

Red Room trolling is now a thing

The earliest driver of the speculation was like a hidden web service called 'The Human Experiment,'[18] accessible from the early days of Tor. You'll also see speculation about gladiatorial fights to the death,[19] human-hunting,[20] and human trafficking.[21]

Since the popularization of the Deep Web myth, people have sworn they have 'stumbled' upon Red Rooms, or that their friend's cousin who totally works for the NSA saw one. Other users like to 'warn' users they whilst they personally cannot vouch for their existence, that they should be careful because they are 'unfortunately real'.

The alleged existence of such websites are perpetuated by YouTubers such as Takedownman and SomeOrdinaryGamers, fraudulent testimonials,[22] as well as a vast number of intrigued would-be-fans on social media forums.[23] CreepypastasWikipedia's W.svgs like 'The Suicide Show' provide first person narratives of purported experiences.[24] Often fake top level domain names will be required for access.

The 2016 indie horror title Welcome to the Game features the player going into the Deep Web in a quest to find a real Red Room, along the way encountering many other fictional Deep Web tropes.[25]

Examples[edit]

Bacon Room[edit]

In August 2015, there was a minor social media buzz when an advertisement for a "Red Room" was spread via Reddit and other channels with a countdown to the release of a video that would allegedly depict the live execution of ISIS prisoners. What was delivered instead was a troll video and a fake FBI take-down notice.[26][27]

A.L.I.C.I.A[edit]

Site from some time in 2015 with creepy sounds playing and a countdown. ooOOOooo[28][29] Formally located at 5fpp2orjc2ejd2g7.onion, now closed.

Deep web's red rooms[edit]

Yes, a custom browser...[28]

Shadow Web Red Room[edit]

Darknet-red-room.png

The site features top end security like disabling mouse clicks and a stock image background.[30] The background image is rotated from time to time.

We've compiled a customized open source Firefox browser specifically configured to securely and anonymously access our streaming servers over I2P.

A blogger's interview goes into further details of the scam.[28]

A separate Shadow Web site run by the same people as above references fake top level domain names.[28]

More[edit]

Blogger Secrets of the Dark continues to index even more such scams.[31]

References[edit]

  1. 1.0 1.1 Do Red Rooms exist in the deep web? Quora.
  2. http://cinemaholocaust.com/2013/05/23/red-room/
  3. V-Club
  4. 8 year-old cancer survivor thanks Facebook users for curing her with ‘photo sharing’
  5. 19-year-old Commits Suicide on Justin.tv
  6. Facebook and Twitter users complain over Virginia shooting videos autoplay
  7. When People Live-Stream Murder and Suicide, Who Watches?
  8. French Periscope death stirs social media safety fears
  9. Chicago man shot dead during Facebook live-stream
  10. French jihadist murders police couple at Magnanville
  11. Entertainment as Pleasurable and Meaningful: Identifying Hedonic and Eudaimonic Motivations for Entertainment Consumption
  12. Body, Psyche, and Culture: The Relationship between Disgust and Morality
  13. 13.0 13.1 Morbid fascination really DOES exist: Study finds we are physically compelled to watch gory scenes - even if they disgust us
  14. Captivated and Grossed Out: An Examination of Processing Core and Sociomoral Disgusts in Entertainment Media
  15. 15.0 15.1 Why We Can't Stop Watching Disgusting Videos
  16. Paris police stabbing: 'Isis-inspired' killer broadcast attack live on Facebook
  17. Why I Can’t Stop Watching Horrifying ISIS Decapitation Videos
  18. The Human Experiment
  19. Are there modern-day Gladitorial fights on the Darkweb?
  20. Human-hunting on the internet, also not a real thing
  21. My Brief Encounter with a Dark Web 'Human Trafficking' Site
  22. The Red Room Human Trafficker (Dark Web Horror)
  23. 'Real' Dark Web Doesn't Exist
  24. The Suicide Show
  25. Welcome To The Game on Steam
  26. Waiting in the Red Room
  27. Livestreaming Torture Is the Dark Web's Favorite Hoax
  28. 28.0 28.1 28.2 28.3 Dark web websites that 'claim' to be Red Rooms
  29. ALICIA Deep Web que oculta esta pagina
  30. Shadow Web Red Rooms
  31. https://direclown.wordpress.com/category/deep-web/red-rooms/