8chan — the website connected to numerous mass shootings and conspiracy theories — has relaunched as ‘8kun’
- The forum formerly known as 8chan has been relaunched under the new name ‘8kun.’
- The website was pulled down in August after the El Paso, Texas mass shooter posted his manifesto on the site.
- Two other mass shooters also used the website to distribute their manifestos.
- The relaunched site has already faced bugs and technical difficulties but has also already served as a platform to foment the conspiracy QAnon community.
- The first day the 8kun was up, a user purporting to be ‘Q’ posted, which made waves among Q-devotees.
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The site appears to be nearly identical to what it was previously, but notably, there is no /pol/ board (yet) — typically the subforum where shootings were encouraged and manifestos posted. Ron Watkins, the son of 8chan owner and operator Jim Watkins, said on Twitter that boards (subforums) are still being migrated from 8chan to 8kun.
The perpetrators of the El Paso, Texas; Christchurch, New Zealand; and Poway, California massacres all posted their manifestos to the site before going on to collectively murder 76 people. Shooters were often encouraged and applauded on the forum, despite efforts from moderators to pull down shooting content.
After the shooting in El Paso, Texas, multiple web companies that provided services for 8chan dropped the website, making it nearly impossible for it to go on. That included domain registrar Tucows, who told Vice they weren’t aware of the registration in October, but continues to host the site.
After the site was brought down, site administrator Watkins vocally defended it on YouTube and in testimony to Congress. 8kun is peppered with quotes about freedom of speech and freedom from censorship, and in a video response to criticism following the El Paso shooting, Watkins called 8chan “an empty piece of paper for writing on.”
Watkins is explicit on 8kun that legality is the line of enforcement for the site — the only speech to be removed is that which is determined as illegal (those threatening violence). In his Congressional testimony, Watkins was clear that the site wouldn’t remove hate speech, saying, “My company has no intention of deleting constitutionally protected hate speech. I feel the remedy for this type of speech is counter-speech, and I’m certain that this is the view of the American justice system.”
On the first day of its relaunch, the site has had noted performance issues — intermittently being inaccessible except via Tor, anonymizing software used to access the dark web. Despite a key aspect of 8kun being anonymity, Watkins warned users the day of its launch that a bug was revealing users’ IDs, according to The Daily Beast. In a video posted online, Watkins said that the number of users attempting to access the site brought it down, along with cyber-attacks.
Excitement pulsed through the QAnon conspiracy theory community Saturday after new posts on 8kun from a user purporting to be Q appeared. QAnon believers think that a member of Trump’s administration who goes by Q posts on 8chan to point them towards secret messages hidden in Trump’s tweets, among other materials (there is no evidence this is what’s really happening).
The user seemingly hadn’t posted since 8chan went down in August.