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8chan sputters back to life with new name

8chan users moving to Discord
8chan users looking for new platforms 06:11

Nearly three months after the shuttering of an anonymous online forum infamous for the mass shooters who used it, a nearly identical successor began intermittently surfacing over the weekend. 

The website, 8chan, was shut down in August after a series of online service providers yielded to calls of outrage for doing business with an online forum that had long been known as a breeding ground for virulent hate speech. In 2019, three mass shooters used the site to announce their violent plans before opening fire. Now it's returned as a nearly identical site with a new name, 8kun, using online service providers based in Russia.

Almost immediately after it resurfaced Saturday, its detractors continued the whack-a-mole process of identifying its service providers and demanding the companies drop the new site. In August, as outrage grew over 8chan's lack of moderation and fostering of internet hate, activists — including the site's founder Frederick Brennan — began contacting the companies that provided hosting and other services to the site. One by one, 8chan was dropped, and ultimately within days the site was shut down.

Soon after 8kun appeared, Brennan and others contacted the Russian firm Selectel to notify it that it was hosting 8kun. By the end of the day, Selectel had blocked the site. 8kun then moved to VDSina, another Russian provider. 

The company at first referred those who contacted it to Russia's internet censorship agency, the Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Media. 

Lukas Ekberg is one such anti-8chan activist. He said he contacted VDSina and others providing services to the new site because of its tolerance of Nazis. He said the site is known as a breeding grounds for white supremacists.

"I am against hate and 8chan is (a) brewing ground for it," Ekberg said over Twitter direct message. "...Knowing that happens on 8chan is unacceptable."

On Monday morning, soon after a reporter for CBS News contacted VDSina by phone and email, it too cut off service to 8kun.

"This customer is blocked by us. You can report this in your publication," an employee of the company wrote in an email. About an hour later, 8kun had once again resurfaced online.

Ekberg is part of a loose coalition of online activists who for months have tracked the nascent site's development. Their most well-known voice is Brennan's; he generated headlines in 2018 when he disavowed the site he founded and sold two years earlier.

In the months since the gunman in the deadly attack at an El Paso, Texas, Walmart allegedly posted a hate-filled screed to 8chan, Brennan has led the charge to track the new site and prevent it from replacing 8chan. In an interview with CBS News Monday, Brennan said the site didn't appear to take any measures to moderate hate speech after the gunmen in mass shootings in Christchurch, New Zealand and Poway, California posted screeds to the site this spring. After the El Paso attack, he decided he wanted to actively try to prevent the site from operating.

"I'm just sick of them and I'm sick of their site and I'm sick of all the shootings," Brennan said. "That was it for me. And since then I have been trying to get it shut down so that my name is not continuously brought up in regards to this."

Even before 8kun's launch, Brennan sought to identify and publicize service providers the company appeared to be testing the site on.

"I do think that I delayed them for over a month," Brennan said. "I contacted several providers of course. ... I would be the one to send the first email and then I would post on Twitter how other people could help."

A version of 8kun is also currently operating on the dark web, a slice of the internet not accessible via traditional web browsers and not searchable, or indexed, by Google and other search engines. Though live, that version of the site is nearly non-functional, and posts in the last two days has been extremely limited.

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