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The message board for conspiracy theorists, mass shooters, and racists—8chan—has been resurrected as 8kun.
On Nov. 1, 8chan’s verified Twitter account announced that the site was about to relaunch. The next day, Gizmodo reported that it was internet-official: 8chan had changed its name to 8kun and was in the process of migrating message boards to its new URL. As of this morning, 61 public message boards were available. On Oct. 18, the site tweeted that it has plans to migrate 200 in the near future.
The same day the site went live, a user purporting to be Q, of the conspiracy theory QAnon, made a post, known among the faithful as a “Q drop.”
8chan was forced off the internet in August after security providers dropped it in the wake of news the alleged El Paso mass shooter had posted a hateful manifesto on the site’s /pol/ subforum minutes before the shooting. This was the third time in months that an alleged mass shooter had posted on this subforum before their rampage. The Christchurch, New Zealand mosque shooter live streamed the killings there; prior to his attacks, the Poway, California synagogue shooter posted a manifesto there.
As of this morning, the notorious /pol/ subforum had not been uploaded to the new site.
The site briefly returned on the dark web days after it initially went down, but quickly disappeared again.
Last month, 8chan announced it was rebranding to 8kun.
This launch hasn’t been without glitches; to date, the site remains buggy and error messages are common. The site administrator told the Washington Post that cyberattacks and surging traffic were causing some issues.
Migration is still ongoing, some boards have a lot of content. Existing accounts for boards that are already migrated should work just the same.— 8chan (8ch.net) (@infinitechan) November 2, 2019
If everything goes right, tomorrow morning might be it.
Board migration will continue after launch.
The new site is essentially the same as the old, with one notable exception: a new rule that prohibits posting or linking to anything that violates U.S. law. The rule basically boils down to a prohibition against child pornography.
“In short, the 8kun administration does not tolerate images of real children and Global Volunteers will treat such content as either child pornography or a Dost violation. Such content will be deleted and the IP address that posted it will be banned permanently,” it says. (Dost is a multi-pronged test for determining whether something is, in fact, child porn.)
Child porn is among the questionable types of content the site was notorious for. In August, media reported that authorities in the Philippines, where owner Jim Watkins lives, were investigating the alleged proliferation of child porn on the site.
While 8kun may not tolerate child pornography, it will still gladly serve as a platform for hate speech. According to the Verge, in September, Watkins told Congress that he had “no intent of deleting constitutionally protected hate speech.”
The Daily Dot has already seen one racist post on the site.
I can see this #8kun being a huge flop, it's going to turn into a place for racist to share racist memes. It has potential, but people will avoid it cause it's going to get infested with racist #Qanon pic.twitter.com/ahEsiDKFBS— christopher redmond (@Chris420Redmond) November 2, 2019
For QAnon followers, the return of 8chan signals the possible return of “Q,” who has been silent since Aug. 1. They didn’t have to wait long. Someone claiming to be Q posted on the site on Saturday, the same day it went live, triggering a flurry of excited attempts to verify their identity. (The consensus is yes, it’s Q.)
The latest Q post links to a couple of tweets, one apparently claiming that Q is legitimately a Trump insider. QAnon followers believe that the “cabal,” or deep state, is waging a secret war to take Trump down, an argument not dissimilar to those circulated by the president and his supporters.
Unlike their more mainstream counterparts, QAnon converts further believe that Trump is also going to expose a pedophile ring being run by elite liberals.
The other tweet linked in the post is the first of two announcing Q’s return after “93 days dark,” which is significant for a reason that only a follower of Q can comprehend.
Q posted today on 8kun. Trump has not confirmed yet with a Q proof.— 🇺🇸 3Days3Nights 🇺🇸 (@3Days3Nights) November 3, 2019
Q made the first post today on 8kun at 7:47PM. With 6 minutes to spare before “93 days dark” expired at 7:53PM. pic.twitter.com/kMdl1S9lzD
The content of the Q drop, as they are known, essentially amounts to an announcement that Q is returning. The line “Rig for Red” in the post—a submarine term that refers to make sure low intensity and red interior lights are used to preserve night vision—has been exhaustively analyzed by a few followers who have concluded that it means they will soon be able to see in the dark, figuratively speaking.
I would suggest for us to adjust our eyes, be on the lookout tonight anons.— ENoCH (@elenochle) November 3, 2019
I see Q is back. 93 days dark predicted in post 3525. Last post was August 1. Resumed November 2. 93 days exactly. Post 3574 is "Rig for red". That's the code given when a submarine surfaces after being under for a while. #QAnon pic.twitter.com/9ZS9WR6vVi— Richard (@R1charb) November 3, 2019
Skeptics have been quick to point out that a grand announcement of Q’s return could easily be a performance designed to excite fans.
It's really telling that Q's first posts on 8kun are just a version the sci-fi trope of a system 'coming online' as though QAnon was the Matrix or Skynet or something— Feminist Proper Gander (@dappergander) November 4, 2019
It's performative fiction pic.twitter.com/dCuPytdsgv
It is also possible that someone involved with 8kun/8chan is coordinating with Q, or could even be Q themselves. The free publicity of a purported Q drop certainly isn’t hurting web traffic.
Claire Goforth is a Jacksonville, Florida-based journalist covering politics, culture, justice, and unicorns. Her work has appeared in publications ranging from regional alt-weeklies to Al Jazeera.