- The forum formerly known as 8chan has been relaunched under the 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 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 — typically the subforum where shootings were encouraged and manifestos posted. Ron Watkins, the son of 8chan’s owner and operator, Jim Watkins, said on Twitter that boards, or subforums, were still being migrated from 8chan to 8kun.
The perpetrators of massacres in El Paso, Texas; Christchurch, New Zealand; and Poway, California, all posted 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, multiple web companies that provided services for 8chan dropped the website, making it nearly impossible for it to go on. That included the domain registrar Tucows, which Vice in October reported had registered the new site despite banning the old one.
After the site was brought down, the elder Watkins had 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 determined to be illegal (i.e., 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.”
The site had performance issues on the first day of its relaunch — intermittently being inaccessible except via Tor anonymizing software used to access the dark web, or parts of the internet hidden from conventional search engines. Despite a key aspect of 8kun being anonymity, Watkins warned users on the day of its launch that a bug was revealing users’ IDs, according to The Daily Beast. In a video posted online, Watkins said the number of users attempting to access the site brought it down, along with cyberattacks.
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 a member of the Trump administration who goes by Q posts on 8chan to point them toward 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.
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