Type of site
|Available in||English (users can create language-specific boards)|
|Created by||Fredrick Brennan|
|Launched||October 22, 2013|
|Current status||clearnet domain down, .onion working.|
|Part of a series on|
8kun, previously called 8chan, Infinitechan or Infinitychan (stylized as ∞chan), is an imageboard website composed of user-created message boards. An owner moderates each board, with minimal interaction from site administration.After going offline in August 2019, the site rebranded itself as 8kun and was relaunched in November 2019.
The site has been linked to white supremacism, neo-Nazism, the alt-right, racism and antisemitism, hate crimes, and multiple mass shootings.The site was known for hosting child pornography; as a result, it was filtered out from Google Search. Several of the site's boards played an active role in the Gamergate controversy, encouraging Gamergate affiliates to frequent 8chan after 4chan banned the topic. 8chan is the home of the discredited far-right QAnon conspiracy theory.
In the aftermath of the back-to-back mass shootings on August 3 and August 4, 2019, in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, respectively, the site was taken off clearnet on August 5, 2019, after the network infrastructure provider Cloudflare stopped providing their content delivery network (CDN) service. Voxility, a web services company that had been renting servers to Epik, the site's new domain registrar, as well as Epik's CDN provider subsidiary BitMitigate, also terminated service.Shortly before the El Paso shooting, a four-page message justifying the attack was posted to 8chan, and police have stated that they are "reasonably confident" it was posted by the perpetrator. After several attempts to return to the clearnet were ultimately stymied by providers denying service to 8chan, the site returned to the clearnet in November 2019 through a Russian hosting provider.
8chan was created in October 2013 by computer programmer Fredrick Brennan,then better known by his alias "Hotwheels". Brennan created the website after observing what he perceived to be rapidly escalating surveillance and a loss of free speech on the Internet. Brennan, who considered the imageboard 4chan to have grown into authoritarianism, described 8chan as a "free-speech-friendly" alternative, and originally conceptualized the site while experiencing a psychedelic mushrooms trip.
No experience or programming knowledge is necessary for users to create their own boards.Since as early as March 2014, its FAQ has stated only one rule that is to be globally enforced: "Do not post, request, or link to any content illegal in the United States of America. Do not create boards with the sole purpose of posting or spreading such content." Brennan claimed that, while he found some of the content posted by users to be "reprehensible", he felt personally obligated to uphold the site's integrity by tolerating discussion he does not necessarily support regardless of his moral stance.
Brennan agreed to partner 8chan with the Japanese message board 2channel,and subsequently relocated to the Philippines in October 2014.
In January 2015, the site changed its domain after multiple people filed reports complaining to 8chan's registrar that the message board hosted child pornography. Despite subsequently regaining the domain, the site remained at with the old domain redirecting to it.
Numerous bugs in the Infinity software led to the funding and development of a successor platform dubbed "Infinity Next". After a several-month-long testing period, a migration to the new software was attempted in December 2015, but failed. [ clarification needed ] In January 2016, development was halted, and the main developer, Joshua Moon, was fired by Brennan. Brennan himself officially resigned in July 2016, turning the site over to its owner, Jim Watkins and his son, Ron Watkins.[ clarification needed ] He cited the failure of the "Infinity Next" project and disillusionment with what 8chan had become as reasons.
Following the three shootings in 2019 (Christchurch, New Zealand, in March; Poway, California, in April; El Paso, Texas, in August) in which the perpetrators of each used 8chan as a platform to spread their manifesto, there was increased pressure on those providing 8chan's Internet services to terminate their support.
Matthew Prince, CEO of Cloudflare, initially defended his firm's technological support of 8chan on August 3, 2019, the day of the El Paso shooting: "What happened in El Paso today is abhorrent in every possible way, and it's ugly, and I hate that there's any association between us and that ... For us the question is which is the worse evil?"
However, by the next day, August 4, with increasing press attention, Cloudflare changed its position, and rescinded its support for 8chan effective midnight August 5 Pacific Time, potentially leaving the site open for denial of service attacks. Prince stated: "Unfortunately the action we take today won't fix hate online ... It will almost certainly not even remove 8chan from the Internet. But it is the right thing to do." The Cloudflare Blog wrote:
8chan is among the more than 19 million Internet properties that use Cloudflare's service. We just sent notice that we are terminating 8chan as a customer effective at midnight tonight Pacific Time. The rationale is simple: they have proven themselves to be lawless and that lawlessness has caused multiple tragic deaths. Even if 8chan may not have violated the letter of the law in refusing to moderate their hate-filled community, they have created an environment that revels in violating its spirit.
Brennan, the creator of 8chan who ceased being the owner in 2015 and ceased working for the website in 2018, stated on August 4, 2019, that 8chan should be shut down,and subsequently thanked Cloudflare for its decision to pull support for 8chan.
Tucows also terminated its support as 8chan's domain name registrar, making the site difficult to access. In the wake of Cloudflare and Tucows' changes, 8chan switched its domain register to BitMitigate, a division of Epik, a provider that had previously serviced far-right sites like Gab and The Daily Stormer . After 8chan moved to Epik, the company's CEO Rob Monster wrote: "Freedom of speech and expression are fundamental rights in a free society. We enter into a slippery slope when we start to limit speech that makes us uncomfortable."However, Voxility, the company that provided BitMitigate and Epik with its own servers and Internet connectivity, then took steps to stop leasing servers to BitMitigate, taking that site offline, and stated that the intended use of their servers violated their acceptable use policy. Monster changed his decision to provide content hosting to 8chan soon after the company's removal from Voxility, citing concerns that 8chan did not have the ability to adequately moderate content. However, Ars Technica noted that the company had begun providing 8chan with DNS services.
Although the website was unreachable through its usual domain on the clearnet, users continued to access the site through its IP address and via its .onion address on the Tor hidden services darknet.Security researcher and terrorism analyst Rita Katz noted that a site claiming to be 8chan had also appeared on ZeroNet, another darkweb network, although an 8chan administrator tweeted that their team was not the one running the site.
On August 6, 2019, the United States House Committee on Homeland Security called 8chan's owner, Jim Watkins, an American living in the Philippines, to testify about the website's efforts to tackle "the proliferation of extremist content, including white supremacist content".On August 11, 2019, Watkins uploaded a YouTube video saying that 8chan had been offline "voluntarily", and that it would go back online after he spoke with the Homeland Security Committee. In early September, Watkins traveled to Washington, D.C. for congressional questioning. In an interview with The Washington Post , Watkins said that 8chan staff were building protections against cyberattacks to replace Cloudflare's services, and that the website could come back online as early as mid-September.
On October 7, 2019, 8chan's official Twitter account and Jim Watkins' YouTube channel released a video that unveiled a new "8kun" logo.In it, a snake (which resembles that of the Gadsden flag) forms a shape of number 8 on top of the logo. The "8chan" name was based on the '-chan' suffix (shortened from 'channel') used by the imageboards that employ the 2channel-like format, but it was suggested that the new name is a wordplay based on Japanese honorifics; in that case, '-chan' can be interpreted as the one generally used for young children, especially females, while '-kun' suffix is used for younger males in general, or sometimes subordinates in the workplace. On October 9, 2019, 8chan's official Twitter account posted a notification that instructed board owners who wish to migrate to 8kun to send their "shared secrets" (a tool that enables board owner to recover an 8chan board) to an email address at 8kun.net.
Brennan has vocally opposed 8chan's relaunch as 8kun, claiming the effort will not change the reputation previously associated with 8chan, and also citing his troubled relationship with 8chan administrators.Brennan has also suggested that the success of 8kun will depend on the return of "Q" and its followers. The new 8kun domain was registered with Tucows on September 7, 2019, but a spokesperson from Tucows stated that the company was unaware of the situation until the news about 8kun broke out, and that it was looking into the matter. 8kun was set to launch by October 17, 2019, however the attempt failed as British server provider Zare discontinued support. A spokesperson for Zare claimed in a statement to Vice that the team behind 8kun may have provided false details while registering themselves. On October 22, Watkins packed 8chan's servers into a van and transported them to an unknown location. This was later revealed to be in preparation for a move to the network VanwaTech, owned by Nicholas Lim, the founder of BitMitigate. On November 5, 8chan came briefly back online as 8kun by using a bogon IP through Media Land LLC. Media Land LLC is owned by the Russian Alexander "Yalishanda" Volosovyk, who has been described as the "world's biggest 'bulletproof' hosting operator" and is known for enabling cybercriminal activity. 8kun's trouble getting back online continued in the subsequent weeks, with Ron Watkins telling The Wall Street Journal "8chan is on indefinite hiatus" on November 16. 8kun moved to a .top domain on November 16, after the Tucows domain registrar stopped providing services earlier in the month. CNServers, which indirectly provided DDoS protection to VanwaTech via Spartan Host, cut ties in October 2020, taking 8kun briefly offline as a result. VanwaTech subsequently moved to DDoS-Guard, a Russian-owned service provider registered in Scotland.
8kun, which is one of the primary platforms used by followers of QAnon and those on the far-right, was used by rioters to plan the January 6, 2021 storming of the United States Capitol. Some posts on the message board discussed which politicians the posters would kill once they entered the building,and some suggested killing police, security guards, and federal employees.
After receiving questions from The Guardian following the attack, the cyberattack protection company DDoS-Guard terminated its service to 8kun's hosting provider, VanwaTech. Speaking to The Guardian, one of DDoS-Guard's owners explained that the company had been providing their services to VanwaTech, not to 8kun directly, but that they "were not related to any political issues and don't want to be associated in any sense with customers hosting such toxic sites like QAnon/8chan".Cyberattack protection services were restored to 8kun when VanwaTech began using the American company FiberHub.
Numerous controversies related to content posted on 8chan have arisen, to the extent that participation by individuals or companies in the website can itself cause controversy. On February 25, 2019, THQ Nordic hosted an AMA (ask me anything) thread on the video games board of the website, /v/, for which it later apologized.
On September 18, 2014, 8chan became entangled in the Gamergate controversy after 4chan banned discussion of Gamergate,whereupon 8chan became one of several hubs for Gamergate activity. 8chan's initial Gamergate-oriented board also gained attention after being compromised by members of the internet troll group Gay Nigger Association of America, forcing Gamergate activists to migrate to "/gamergate/". This replacement quickly became the site's second-most accessed board.
In January 2015, the site was used as a base for swatting exploits in Portland, Seattle, and Burnaby, British Columbia, most of them tied to the victims' criticism of Gamergate and 8chan's association with it;the attacks were coordinated on a board on the website called "/baphomet/". One of the victims of a swatting attack said that she was singled out because she had followed someone on Twitter. On February 9, 2015, content on the "/baphomet/" subboard was wiped after personal information of Katherine Forrest, the presiding judge in the Silk Road case, had been posted there.
In 2019, a post threatening a mass shooting against Bethel Park High School was posted on 8chan; as a result, an 18-year-old individual was arrested and charged with one count of terroristic threats and one count of retaliation against a witness or victim.
Boards have been created to discuss topics such as child rape. While the sharing of illegal content is against site rules, The Daily Dot wrote that boards do exist to share sexualized images of minors in provocative poses, and that some users of those boards do post links to explicit child pornography hosted elsewhere.When asked whether such boards were an inevitable result of free speech, Brennan responded: "Unfortunately, yes. I don’t support the content on the boards you mentioned, but it is simply the cost of free speech and being the only active site to not impose more 'laws' than those that were passed in Washington, D.C."
In August 2015, 8chan was blacklisted from Google Search for what Google described as content constituting "suspected child abuse content".
In July 2016, U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump tweeted an image of Hillary Clinton with a background of money and a six-pointed star which resembled the Star of David, containing the message "Most corrupt candidate ever". The image had been posted to 8chan's /pol/ board as early as June 22, over a week before Trump's team tweeted it. A watermark on the image led to a Twitter account which had published many other overtly racist and antisemitic images.
8chan is the home of the discredited far-right QAnon conspiracy theory.
During 2018, a user that referred to himself as "Q" gained attention and promoted conspiracy theories about the deep state, eventually leading to an international movement. Sean Hannity has retweeted QAnon hashtags on his Twitter feed.On March 14, 2018, the initial group of Q followers on Reddit were banned over their promotion of the theory. They quickly regrouped into a new subreddit, which featured posts from Q and other anonymous posters on 8chan in a more reader-friendly format. The subreddit was banned for a second time on September 12, 2018. With a flood of new users on the board, Q asked one of the website's owners, Ron Watkins, to upgrade the website's servers in order to accommodate all of the board's website traffic on September 19, 2018.
The movement has been linked with the Pizzagate conspiracy theory. The Q movement has also been linked to the hashtags #TheGreatAwakening and #WWG1WGA,which stands for "where we go one, we go all"; it's also sometimes linked with the phrase "Follow the White Rabbit".
In September 2018, the Louisiana State Police were scrutinized for using a hoax list of personal information about supposed antifa activists originally posted on 8chan's politics board. The document, dubbed "full list of antifa.docx" by police officers, actually contained the names of several thousand people who signed online petitions against then-President Donald Trump. The State Police has refused to disclose the list, claiming it would "compromise" ongoing criminal investigations in which it expects arrests. A lawsuit against Louisiana State Police was filed on behalf of the record requester by Harvard lecturer and former public defender Thomas Frampton, alleging that the Police's refusal to release the list indicates that it actually believed the credibility of the hoax list and used it in investigations and litigations.
The perpetrators of three mass shootings, all in 2019, each used 8chan to spread their manifesto. As a result, there was increased pressure on those providing 8chan's Internet services to terminate their support,which led to the services companies' withdrawal from providing CDN and domain registry, taking the website off the clearnet.
Prior to attacks on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, on March 15, 2019, the perpetrator, Brenton Harrison Tarrant, posted links to what was ultimately a 17-minute Facebook Live video of the first attack on Al Noor Mosque and his white nationalist, neo-fascist manifesto The Great Replacement (named after the French far-right conspiracy theory of the same name by writer Renaud Camus) detailing his anti-Islamic and anti-immigration reasons for the attack. The shootings overall left 51 dead and 40 more injured.Some members of 8chan re-shared it and applauded the attacks.
On March 20, 2019, Australian telecom companies Telstra, Optus, and Vodafone denied millions of Australians access to the websites 4chan, 8chan, Zero Hedge, and LiveLeak as a reaction to the Christchurch mosque shootings.
New Zealand ISPs Spark, Vodafone, and 2degrees, with a near monopoly of the broadband and mobile market share in New Zealand, also followed suit in blocking 4chan, 8chan, Zero Hedge, and LiveLeak for a number of weeks following the shootings, blocking 8chan and other similar websites at a DNS level in an attempt to prevent the proliferation of widely accessible content that was classified as objectionable by the Chief Censor of New Zealand.
John T. Earnest, the alleged perpetrator of a shooting at a synagogue in Poway, California, on April 27, 2019, and an earlier arson attack at a mosque in nearby Escondido on March 25, had posted links to his open letter and his attempted livestream on 8chan, which Earnest also named as a place of radicalization for him.According to 8chan's Twitter, the shooter's post was removed nine minutes after its creation.
Patrick Crusius, the suspect in a mass shooting at a Walmart store in El Paso, Texas, on August 3, 2019, allegedly posted a four-page white nationalist manifesto The Inconvenient Truth on 8chan less than an hour before the shooting began. 8chan moderators quickly removed the original post, though users continued to circulate links to this manifesto.
QAnon, or simply Q, is a discredited far-right conspiracy theory alleging that a cabal of Satanic, cannibalistic pedophiles run a global child sex trafficking ring and conspired against former President Donald Trump during his term in office. QAnon is commonly described as a cult.
4chan is an anonymous English-language imageboard website. Launched by Christopher "moot" Poole in October 2003, the site hosts boards dedicated to a wide variety of topics, from anime and manga to video games, music, literature, fitness, politics, and sports, among others. Registration is not available and users typically post anonymously; posting is ephemeral, as threads receiving recent replies are "bumped" to the top of their respective board and old threads are deleted as new ones are created. As of May 2021, 4chan receives more than 20 million unique monthly visitors, with more than 900,000 posts made daily.
An imageboard is a type of Internet forum that revolves around the posting of images, often alongside text and discussion. The first imageboards were created in Japan as an extension of the textboard concept. These sites later inspired the creation of a number of English-language imageboards, such as 4chan.
Cloudflare, Inc. is an American web infrastructure and website security company that provides content delivery network services, DDoS mitigation, Internet security, and distributed domain name server services. Cloudflare's services sit between a website's visitor and the Cloudflare user's hosting provider, acting as a reverse proxy for websites. Cloudflare's headquarters are in San Francisco.
The social news site Reddit has occasionally been the topic of controversy due to the presence of communities on the site devoted to explicit or controversial material. In 2012, Yishan Wong, the site's then-CEO, stated, "We stand for free speech. This means we are not going to ban distasteful subreddits. We will not ban legal content even if we find it odious or if we personally condemn it." However, numerous subreddits have since been banned on the basis of ideology.
The Gamergate controversy concerned an online harassment campaign, primarily conducted through the use of the hashtag #GamerGate, that centered on issues of sexism and anti-progressivism in video game culture. Gamergate is used as a blanket term for the controversy as well as for the harassment campaign and actions of those participating in it.
Brianna Wu is an American video game developer and computer programmer. She co-founded Giant Spacekat, an independent video game development studio, with Amanda Warner in Boston, Massachusetts. She is also a blogger and podcaster on matters relating to the video game industry. In 2018, she unsuccessfully ran for Congress in Massachusetts's 8th congressional district. Wu began a second campaign for the primary in 2020, however in April she announced her departure from the race, due to the coronavirus lockdown preventing in-person campaigning.
Fredrick Brennan is an American software developer and type designer who founded the imageboard website 8chan in 2013, before going on to repudiate it in 2019. Following 8chan's surge in popularity in 2014, largely due to many Gamergate proponents migrating to the site from 4chan, Brennan moved to the Philippines to work for Jim Watkins, who provided hosting services to 8chan and later became the site's owner.
Voat Inc was an American alt-tech news aggregator and social networking service where registered community members could submit content such as text posts and direct links. Registered users could then vote on these submissions. Content entries were organized by areas of interest called "subverses". The website was widely described as a hub for the alt-right, and as a Reddit clone. The site shut down on December 25, 2020.
The Daily Stormer is an American far-right, neo-Nazi, white supremacist, misogynist, and Holocaust denial commentary and message board website that advocates for a second genocide of Jews. It considers itself a part of the alt-right movement. Its editor, Andrew Anglin, founded it on July 4, 2013, as a faster-paced replacement for his previous website Total Fascism, which had focused on his own long-form essays on fascism, race, and antisemitic conspiracy theories. In contrast, The Daily Stormer relies heavily on quoted material with exaggerated headlines.
/pol/, short for "politically incorrect", is a political discussion board on 4chan. The board has been noted for its racist, white supremacist, antisemitic, misogynistic, and transphobic content.
Gab is an American alt-tech social networking service known for its far-right userbase. Widely described as a haven for extremists including neo-Nazis, white supremacists, white nationalists, the alt-right, and QAnon conspiracy theorists, it has attracted users and groups who have been banned from other social media and users seeking alternatives to mainstream social media platforms. Gab says it promotes free speech, individual liberty, and "the free flow of information online", though these statements have been criticized as being a shield for its alt-right and extremist ecosystem. Antisemitism is prominent in the site's content, and the company itself has engaged in antisemitic commentary on Twitter. Researchers note that Gab has been "repeatedly linked to radicalization leading to real-world violent events".
BitChute is a video hosting service known for accommodating far-right individuals and conspiracy theorists, and for hosting hate speech. The platform was created in 2017 to allow video uploaders to avoid content rules enforcement on YouTube, and some creators who have been banned from YouTube or had their channels barred from receiving advertising revenue ("demonetised") have migrated to BitChute.
Epik is an American domain registrar and web hosting company known for providing services to websites that host far-right, neo-Nazi, and other extremist content. It has been described as a haven for the far-right because of its willingness to provide services to far-right websites that have been denied service by other Internet service providers.
Liz M. Crokin is an American columnist and conspiracy theorist.
Jim Watkins is an American businessman and the operator of the imageboard website 8chan and textboard website 2channel. Watkins founded the company N.T. Technology in the 1990s to support a Japanese pornography website he created while he was enlisted in the United States Army. After leaving the Army to focus on the company, Watkins moved to the Philippines. He began providing domain and hosting services to 8chan in 2014, and became the site's official owner and operator the same year. Watkins became the operator of 2channel after he seized it in 2014 from its creator and original owner, Hiroyuki Nishimura.
DDoS-Guard is a Russian Internet infrastructure company which provides DDoS protection, content delivery network services, and web hosting services. Researchers and journalists have alleged that many of DDoS-Guard's clients are engaged in criminal activity, and investigative reporter Brian Krebs reported in January 2021 that a "vast number" of the websites hosted by DDoS-Guard are "phishing sites and domains tied to cybercrime services or forums online". Some of DDoS-Guard's notable clients have included the Palestinian Islamic militant nationalist movement Hamas, American alt-tech social network Parler, and various groups associated with the Russian state.
Ronald Watkins is an American conspiracy theorist and former site administrator of the imageboard website 8chan. He has played a major role in spreading the discredited far-right QAnon conspiracy theory, and has promulgated baseless conspiracy theories that widespread election fraud led to Joe Biden's victory over Donald Trump in the 2020 U.S. presidential election. Watkins served as site administrator for 8chan from 2016 until his resignation in November 2020. He is the son of Jim Watkins, the owner and operator of 8chan. Some journalists and researchers believe that one or both of the Watkinses know the identity of, or are themselves, "Q", the person or group of people behind QAnon.
Q: Into the Storm is an American documentary television miniseries directed and produced by Cullen Hoback. It explores the QAnon conspiracy theory and the people involved with it. It consisted of six episodes and premiered on HBO on March 21, 2021. The series received mixed reviews, with some critics praising its insight into the conspiracy theory, and others finding it to be overlong and lacking in analysis of the impacts of QAnon. Some reviewers have criticized the series for not following best practices outlined by extremism researchers for reporting on extremism and conspiracy theories.
Nicholas "Nick" Lim is a technology entrepreneur and software developer based in Vancouver, Washington. Lim and his companies are known for providing services to far-right and neo-Nazi websites, such as The Daily Stormer, a neo-Nazi message board website, and 8chan, the home of the far-right QAnon conspiracy theory. In 2017, Lim founded BitMitigate, a website security company which in 2019 was acquired by Epik. In 2019 he founded VanwaTech, a webhosting and website security company.
Three attackers in six months allegedly posted their plans on the site in advance. In an exclusive interview, Silicon Valley CEO explains his ‘moral obligation’ to keep 8chan online