|Frogs, clowns, and swastikas|
|Rebuilding the Reich, one meme at a time|
|Buzzwords and dogwhistles|
“”Shut the site down. It's not doing the world any good. It's a complete negative to everybody except the users that are there. And you know what? It's a negative to them, too. They just don't realize it.
|—Fredrick Brennan, the goddamn founder of the site|
8chan (or infinitechan), now known as 8kun, is a message board in the style of various imageboards such as 4chan, launched in 2013. The site claims to remove content only when it violates United States federal law, justifying this policy as the exercise of free speech. When it was launched, it gained prominence among Gamergate supporters in August 2014, when their fondness for doxxing got too much even for 4chan to put up with.
8chan was founded by Fredrick Brennan, nicknamed "Hotwheels" due to him being a wheelchair user who suffers from severely disabling osteogenesis imperfecta (brittle bone disease). Brennan had the idea for 8chan as a result of being high on psychedelic mushrooms, to no one's surprise. In May 2016, however, Brennan, who regretted the site's creation, stepped down from leading the site and passed his position to 2ch engineer Ron Watkins, and the latter's father, Jim Watkins, who subsequently proceeded to turn the site into the type of environment that QAnon would be able to grow and fester in.
In the wake of the mass shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio (with the former having connections to 8chan), Cloudflare, after having tolerated rancid sites in the name of free speech, was finally fed up with 8chan's bullshit and pulled the plug.[note 1] Similar to what happened with The Daily Stormer (which was also dropped by Cloudflare on August 16, 2017), fellow DDOS mitigation service Epik / Bitmitigate (who currently also protect other terrorist-enabling sites such as Gab and whose CEO is infamous for attempting to spread the Christchurch shooting video on Twitter) took over, temporarily allowing the rancid dumpster fire known as 8chan to continue to smolder on. Shortly after, Voxility, the company that Epik was renting servers from, also quickly got tired of the bullshit and booted both 8chan and The Daily Stormer off their network (and thus, off the clearnet).
Despite the efforts of Jim Watkins, 8chan has had difficulty finding a host willing to deal with its toxicity (even Kiwi Farms wants nothing to do with them). Attempts to rebrand the site as "8kun" and relaunch the site, including (ironically, for a site founded on "freedom of speech") an attempt to use cloud computing services in China (of all places...) and another attempt to utilize a Russian "bulletproof" host mostly known for ransomware, phishing websites and other cybercriminal activity, repeatedly failed. This was in part due to the efforts of Brennan actively informing would-be hosts what a toxic shithole 8chan is.
8chan began as an alternative to 4chan, the proud shithole of the Internet. It boasts of having only strictly illegal content removed in order to protect its posters' "freedom of speech". The site allows content forbidden on 4chan, such as raiding boards and doxxing, and its policies on child porn can charitably be defined as "loose". It also allows questionable types of porn, such as lolicon[note 2] and photographs of barely-clothed children in sexual poses.
Brennan has also written for The Daily Stormer, a neo-Nazi news site, in favor of eugenics, blaming the lack of such a program in the United States for his disability. He says that when he contacted the Daily Stormer asking for an interview, they suggested he just write an article for them. Defending his contribution on Reddit, Brennan insisted that he is not a neo-Nazi or a white nationalist, and merely considers the Stormer the right-wing equivalent of such "far-left" publications as The Huffington Post or the Daily Dot, although he does indeed support eugenics. He also stated that "building hype around my business is my job, especially when we are strapped for cash and can't advertise directly". It is possible that he does not realize that these are not the sort of Nazis that have boxes and boxes of gold. As of March 2019, Brennan is really sorry about the demon spawn he created. Whoops.
On August 12, 2015, Google delisted 8ch.net due to "suspected child abuse content". Fans of 8chan blamed anyone except themselves. More recently, the archive.is website archiving service blocked all links to 8chan due to an overwhelming amount of child pornography being contained within them. However, this was shortly reverted.
There have been a few times when 8chan was reported to the FBI, who didn't list them as a potential threat until recently. They did, however, issue a search warrant on 8chan's headquarters in April 2019 due to terrorism and hate crime incidents (the Chabad of Poway terrorist attack, as well as arson at the Dar-ul-Arqam Mosque and Islamic Center) linked to /pol/. After the El Paso shootings, the United States Congress likewise got tired of the bullshit and demanded that Jim Watkins testify to the House Homeland Security Committee about the proliferation of extremist content on 8chan.
Considering that anybody can make a board on 8chan, there are definitely some ge(r)ms out there for those willing to trawl through the nearly endless (and ever-expanding) list of boards.
/gg/ /gamergate/ /gamergatehq/ /v/ houses the gathering places for the Gamergate mob.
“”Retards deserve and solely exist to be bullied and anyone who says otherwise is a bleeding-heart retard
|—anonymous /cow/ poster|
A doxing/cyberstalking board similar to /baphomet/ and /b/. Usually just the stalking of YouTube celebrities, although like /baphomet/, it occasionally organizes raids. Comes from the chan term "lolcow", usually referring to someone too vain or too stupid to realize they're being baited into going crazy on the internet (i.e. "milked for lolz").
The "Politically Incorrect" board, home to white nationalists, neo-Nazis, alt-righters, red pillers, self-described fascists, and neoreactionaries, most of whom originally came to 8chan with the "exodus" for Gamergate. When 4chan's admin spammed the local and original /pol/ as part of a joke, many posters "migrated" to 8chan. Despite 8chan's supposed support for free speech, alternate viewpoints are liable to being removed. In 2019, the board became infamous for a series of mass shootings linked to white nationalists associated with the board.
The leftist and almost as toxic version of 4chan/8chan's rightist /pol/. A radical leftist board that discusses and promotes revolutionary socialism, including Marxism, Communism, Leninism, Stalinism ("Marxism-Leninism"), democratic socialism, Communalism, Strasserism (Nazism with a Neo-feudalist bent), anarchism, anarcho-communism, and anti-identity politics. The splinter board /leftpol/ soon emerged after people grew tired of the Stalinist board owner's increasingly authoritarian actions, such as banning threads about Rojava and word filtering controversial terms like "Red Fascism". The majority of anarchists and anti-authoritarians now reside over at /leftpol/ rather than /leftypol/ due to this.
Dedicated to a rather outlandish plot by white supremacists to colonize… well, Namibia. To sum it up, they believe that Namibia is a wild, lawless space for their great white hunter selves to colonize and create a nation based on the alleged "values" of National Socialism. Even though this may sound like a typical anon plot, they've actually sent scouting parties and are attempting to get their "New Rhodesia" under the guise of a charity.
Created after Redditors "left" in "droves" after the banning of the subreddit of the same name due to Reddit's new anti-harassment guidelines. They were shortly driven out by 8chan's existing userbase in a raid fashion. This is another example of Reddit naïvely bigging up the Chan boards as their mega-cool best friend, when in reality they all despise Reddit with little to no exception.
An incredibly bizarre cult centered on a troll originating on /pol/ that can supposedly tell the future. See QAnon for further details.
One of the more infamous boards (named for the demon Baphomet, of course), a "hacking" and raiding board dedicated to the spirit of old 4chan /b/. /baphomet/ streamlines the most extreme and disturbing forms of harassment which 8chan users are notorious for, such as gathering personal information of the site's targets and coordinating SWATing efforts. The board is also replete with grotesque images of human and animal abuse, the sole purpose of which is to disgust outsiders and thus deter spying on the board's operations. Initial targets were those who worked to report child porn on 8chan to the authorities, though many of the current targets are the same people that Gamergate has been targeting for months. Gamergaters off the board will deny that it's part of their movement, while simultaneously cautioning against provoking it in a way that totally isn't a threat.
On February 9, 2015, /baphomet/ underwent a total history wipe after it was revealed that its moderator Benjamin Biddix had posted the mailing address, phone number and social security number of Katherine Forrest, the federal judge who presided over the the Silk Road black market case. Biddix had allegedly been selling dox to fund his attempt to leave the United States for Shanghai. His Tor site was then seized by multiple national and international law enforcement agencies.
When compared to other media outlets (mainstream or fringe), 8chan's /pol/ has a lengthy record of aiding and abetting terrorism targeting minorities (Muslims, Jews, Mestizos/Hispanics, and non-Whites):
- /pol/ was first thrown into the media spotlight on March 15, 2019, when prior to the Christchurch mosque shootings in Christchurch, New Zealand, the suspected perpetrator, Australian-born Brenton Harrison Tarrant, announced his attack and linked to his white supremacist, neo-fascist manifesto The Great Replacement (named after the far-right theory of the same name by Renaud Camus) on this board. Afterward, he would murder 51 people and injure 50 more, all of them Muslims currently in New Zealand. The ensuing celebration, complete with joy over the terrorist's usage of alt-right and /pol/board chan memes during the attack, is exactly the type of thing you should expect here, with users going so far as to spread the manifesto and video of the shooting.
- On April 27, 2019, John T. Earnest of San Diego/Rancho Penasquitos, California preceded to post an open letter blaming Jews for "the meticulously planned genocide of the European race" and other ills on 8chan's /pol/ before his attack on a synagogue in Poway, killing one (elderly Jewish woman Lori Gilbert-Kaye) and injuring three (Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein, Almog Peretz and Noya Dahan). Once again, riotous glee erupted. (Followed by false flag conspiracy theories, as some posters are slowly realizing that this sort of thing makes "the Party Van" take notice...)
- On August 4, 2019, Patrick Crusius of Allen, Texas posted yet another hate-filled manifesto to 8chan, titled The Inconvenient Truth, just before attacking a Walmart in El Paso, killing 22 people and injuring 24. As usual, his manifesto was a racist white nationalist rant, this time concerning fear of Hispanics/Mestizos, and was motivated by a supposed "Hispanic invasion of Texas", as well as "simply trying to defend [his] country from ethnic and cultural replacement brought on by an invasion" (tell that to the Native Americans, honey). Much like John T. Earnest, Crusius praised Brenton Harrison Tarrant, the perpetrator of the Christchurch shootings, and his manifesto The Great Replacement. Nineteen of the 22 deceased victims in the shooting had Spanish surnames and were either from the United States or Mexico (with the exceptions of two Americans and one German). Once again, /pol/ erupted into the usual gleeful joy, but there was increasing worry across all boards that "the Party Van" would shut the site down. Even Frederick Brennan called for the site to be shut down after this incident.
Meet the new 8chan, same as the old 8chan
After initially rejecting hosting arrangements, Russian company VDSina agreed to take on hosting the "rebranded" controversial imageboard. This arrangement didn't last long, however, as they cut service to 8kun shortly after CBS News contacted them in early November 2019. A few days later, the company VanwaTech (who is also the host of the Daily Stormer as of November 2020 and also hosted several websites devoted to fake news about unfounded conspiracy theories regarding the 2020 U.S. presidential election) agreed to host the site.
On January 2, 2020, 8chan's rebranded site 8kun was (sort of) up and running. It was still a mere shadow of the former site, with some bugs still being worked out a few of the most controversial boards (/pol/ and /leftypol/) conspicuously missing, and a few new boards with similarities to previous boards (such as /pnd/, which is essentially /pol/ in disguise). 8kun largely shifted to focusing on the QAnon movement, as the site was still the home of the "official" Q drops from the "spokesperson" of the conspiracy theory.
In October 2020, 8kun briefly went offline when CNServers, the DDOS protection service they were using, discovered they were protecting one of the largest centers of the QAnon conspiracy theory and consequently gave them the boot. The site came back online by switching their DDOS protection to ddos-guard.net, a Russian service that also provides DDOS protection to several phishing sites, domains tied to cybercrime services and forums, the official website of Hamas, and a website called "HKLeaks", which has been used to dox members of the Hong Kong pro-democracy movement.
The 2020 U.S. presidential election brought further disruption to the site. On 8kun, "Q" predicted that Donald Trump would win by a landslide. Instead, Joe Biden won, shaking the faith of many a QAnon devotee. Since then, the number of "Q drops" posted on 8kun have declined considerably. In addition, Ron Watkins, who had long served as the site's administrator, announced his resignation shortly after the election.
As of early 2021, the site is running, with a few embers of life here and there, but with an uncertain long-term future.
- Cloudflare has a free speech absolutist as a top operator and has staunchly supported these sites in the name of freeze peach. Prior to El Paso, this was amid ongoing concerns that those sites led to violence. It's appalling that it took not one but SEVERAL terrorist incidents fueled by 8chan to have the site change its mind (see Terrorism linked to /pol/). In the meantime, it supports literal terrorist sites.
- The term lolicon refers to anime/cartoon media featuring sexualized or sexually-explicit depictions of prepubescent girls (its male counterpart is shotacon). It derives from a Japanese portmanteau of the phrase "Lolita complex", although on 8chan, it is sometimes used as a dog whistle for real child pornography.
- Roose, Kevin (Aug. 4, 2019) 8chan is a Megaphone for Gunmen. 'Shut the Site Down,' Says Its Creator. New York Times. Retrieved August 4, 2019.
- ABC News, The men behind QAnon
- Prince, Matthew. (August 5, 2019) Terminating Service for 8Chan. Cloudflare. Retrieved August 4, 2019.
- "8Chan gets back online and is promptly forced off again", Ars Technica, November 5, 2019
- @fr_brennan: BREAKING: because of an anonymous tip via email I can confirm that @LimTheNick has failed to keep 8kun online during the latest onslaught of deplatforming. The platform will be going Tor only "soon"., Twitter (note: LimTheNick is the CEO of VanwaTech, the provider providing hosting to 8kun.)
- "@infinitechan", 19 December 2014
- "PRQ, Web Host For WikiLeaks And Once For The Pirate Bay, Raided By Swedish Police", Andy Greenberg, Forbes
- https://i.imgur.com/e37Nmdp.png https://i.imgur.com/1nRNmGS.png
- Zoe Quinn, GG's Public Enemy #1, has the details.
- Sam Machkovech, "Notorious 8chan "subboard" has history wiped after federal judge's doxing", Ars Technica
- @Cernowatch, "Benji links to illegal Tor pastebin with CC#, SSNs. This is what we found. (Note the district who issued the order~)", Twitter (archive)
- What is 8chan, and why did the New Zealand shooter use it to announce himself to the world?
- The El Paso Shooting and the Gamification of Terror. bellingcat.com, 4 August 2019.
- "8chan sputters back to life with new name" by Graham Kates, CBS News, 2019 November 4
- urlscan.io record of dailystormer.su, 2020 November 9th, archived on 2021 Jan 5
- "Hamas May Be Threat to 8chan, QAnon Online" by Brian Krebs, KrebsOnSecurity, 2021 Jan 05
- "8chan back online under the name 8kun: Founder of local software company VanwaTech appears to play role in re-emergence of website" by Anthony Macuk, Columbian, 2019 November 7
- "New study on QAnon concludes two different people wrote Q's posts" by Matt Binder, Mashable.com, 2020 December 16
- "QAnon-Conspiracy Forum 8kun Back Online With Help From Russian Internet Firm" by Siladitya Ray, Forbes, 2020 October 19
- "QAnon Lost and Confused After Trump’s Election Showing" by Will Sommer, Daily Beast, 2020 November 7
- Archive of 8kun Q posts hosted at qanon.pub, archived on 2021 Jan 6
- "QAnon’s Home 8kun Is Imploding—and Q Has Gone Silent" by \Kelly Weill, Daily Beast, 2020 November 12