Red room

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A red room is a composite urban legend. It is allegedly a hidden website or service on the "dark 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 dark 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 effect,Wikipedia where publications are continuously built upon misleading citations. According to technology writer and researcher Eric Pudalov, 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 the infamous Daisy's Destruction, by the notorious child pornographer Peter Scully,Wikipedia can be found on the darknet.[1]

Conceptual predecessors in film and TV[edit]

A blue 'red room' from the film 'Chatroom'.
  • The 1983 David Cronenberg film VideodromeWikipedia features a protagonist viewing an apparent live satellite feed of torture taking place in a room with orange clay walls, which sends the protagonist on a journey that leads them to question the difference between reality and television. In fact, Videodrome is the likely origin of the entire red room myth.
  • Found footage pseudo-documentariesWikipedia helped continue the trend, starting with the notorious exploitation film Cannibal HolocaustWikipedia (1980). The Last BroadcastWikipedia (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 Net,Wikipedia as well as films like FeardotComWikipedia in 2002 and UntraceableWikipedia in 2008, would feature scenarios to do with logging onto a website and participating in murder.
  • In 1999, Daisuke YamanouchiWikipedia released Red Room,Wikipedia followed by a sequel in 2000, Red Room 2, which featured elements visited before in the likes of The Running Man.Wikipedia The films were dark satires about a reality TV game show called the ‘King’s Game’, in which contestants complete an increasingly degrading and gruesome set of tasks in an effort to win a sum of money, subjecting their fellow players to suffer whatever cruelty the contestant chooses. The later 2006 Thai horror comedy film 13 BelovedWikipedia covered similar ground.
  • The 2010 British film ChatroomWikipedia dealt with bullying, internet suicide,Wikipedia 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 featured a virtual reality-based voyeuristic murder club.[2] This environment, explored by apparently naive schoolgirls, 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 features a red room for dubiously consensual but nonetheless romanticized BDSM.
  • In 2015's Avengers: Age of Ultron,Wikipedia 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 backward spelling of "murder" (made famous by Stephen King's The ShiningWikipedia and its film adaptation).

On the Internet[edit]

Do you like —?

In the early 2000s, the red room animation[3] 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 perpetrated by a girl who had played the game.

Chain letters,Wikipedia chain emails,Wikipedia and viral Facebook images have often promised deadly consequences for the recipient or another person should they fail to pass on their message within the specified constraints.[4] And yes, this has been made into a film too.Wikipedia

Live-streamed suicides such as on the defunct generated media coverage in the mid to late 2000s.[5]

In August 2015, Facebook and Twitter's default video player settings led 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 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 cyberbullicide.Wikipedia[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 harmful and malicious 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 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
  • 'body envelope violation' (gore).

Undergraduates were shown representative clips of media while having their heart rates, sweat, and facial expressions measured.

It determined socio-moral disgust varied in many 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 or flight 'freeze' response is initiated.

As such, it's hypothesized that people have various motivations to seek out disturbing content, real or otherwise, and that use of disgust in media increases 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 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 where murder has been live-streamed to Facebook.[16] From to contemporary sites like Know Your Meme,Wikipedia[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 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 dark 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 that while they personally cannot vouch for their existence, that they should be careful because they are 'unfortunately real'.

The alleged existence of such websites is perpetuated by YouTubers such as Takedownman and their fraudulent testimonials,[22] as well as a vast number of intrigued would-be-fans on social media forums.[23]

With the rise of CreepypastasWikipedia like 'The Suicide Show', which provide first-person narratives of purported experiences,[24] a whole slew of ‘Deep Web True Stories’ can be found online, all as cookie cutter as each other. These often entail a hapless netizen deciding to check out the dark web because it sounds ‘interesting’, or for some reason or other that usually involves buying drugs or porn, then they somehow stumble into a Red Room — ignoring the fact that if such a thing did exist, it’s highly unlikely whoever ran it would leave it open to any random explorer — then see murder, and get stuffed into a van by ‘Russians’ or masked men to become the next Red Room star where they either die or have parts of their body hacked off — a true whistle-stop tour of the dark web, apparently! 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 dark web in a quest to find a real red room, encountering many other fictional dark web tropes along the way.[25]


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]


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

Dark web's red rooms[edit]

Yes, a custom browser is required, such as tor, i2p, or dat:// based browsers.

Shadow web red room[edit]


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 customised 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]

Common scam site[edit]

There is a common copy and pasted scam site that imitates a red room and occasionally says the show will begin in an allotted amount of time, generally around 2 hours to 6 days. If you click the "Join" button, near the bottom of this page will be the bitcoin wallet key of the scammer with offers such as "spectator", "commander", and "master", each with different levels of 'control', though as this site is a scam they are fakes. They also offer the ability to download the last stream for 0.2 btc, though that is also fake. Images of the fake red room can be found here.


Blogger Secrets of the Dark indexed even more such scams.[31]

External links[edit]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Do Red Rooms exist in the deep web? Quora.
  2. V-Club
  3. Story Copy of site Killer popup 2012 YouTube analysis
  4. 8 year-old cancer survivor thanks Facebook users for curing her with ‘photo sharing’
  5. 19-year-old Commits Suicide on
  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 Dark web websites that 'claim' to be red rooms
  29. ALICIA Dark Web que oculta esta pagina
  30. Shadow Web Red Rooms
  31. Red Rooms: Secrets of the Dark Web. Archived from, 13 July 2017.