Watch CBS News

A parent's guide to the secret language of internet extremists

Extremists Next Door
Extremists Next Door 29:32

REVERB is a new documentary series from CBS Reports. Watch the latest episode, "Extremists Next Door," in the video player above.

American teens spend more than seven hours per day on their screens, according to the nonprofit Common Sense Media — much of it out of the view of parents.  This constant connection to the online world gives them access to a variety of cultures on the web, including some peddling conspiracy theories and reveling in the most extreme forms of racism and misogyny. FBI data show hate crimes in the U.S. have spiked in recent years, and violent extremists and their sympathizers find fertile ground for airing their views in some dark corners of the internet.

Since 2001, perhaps the most influential platforms for extremist internet subcultures have been anonymous imageboards. The origin of this model came from a Japanese site known as Futaba Channel (also known as 2chan). 2chan's structure of threads and discussions, based on the posting of images, led to sites like 4chan, 8chan, and WizardChan. Offering users anonymity and taking a lax approach to moderation, these sites became havens for some of the internet's most graphic and extreme content. Users communicate on them with inside jokes, memes, shorthand terminology and phrases most parents probably don't understand. 

Here are some commonly used terms seen across the world of anonymous imageboards and other online platforms:

An anonymous Japanese textboard, founded in 1999, that became the blueprint for future imageboards. 

An anonymous imageboard started in 2003 that receives 27.7 million unique visitors every month with up to 1 million posts per day. The site is organized by different boards about topics such as video games (v), random (b) and politically incorrect (pol). Known for limited moderation, leading to threads filled with extreme content and graphic images. The Anti-Defamation League has described 4chan as "a place for the alt right to share offensive content & create a hateful subculture. This leads to harassment & intimidation, both online & offline."

An anonymous image board previously known as 8chan. In 2019, three different far-right terrorists posted manifestoes to 8chan in advance of their attacks, prompting web services companies to pull their support.

An anonymous image board for "for male virgins where they can share their thoughts, vent, and discuss their interests and lifestyle as a virgin." 

Short for "involuntarily celebate," incels are an online subculture known for hostility towards women. There have been several deadly rampages attributed to men who identify as incels and those claiming to pursue an "incel revolution."

A male virgin who is over 30 years old. They often attribute their celibacy to social anxieties and depression. 

Wizard Apprentice
A male virgin who is under 30 years old and is not seeking to have sex.

An incel who attributes their "inceldom" to their lack of attractiveness.

An incel who attributes their "inceldom" to the thinness of their wrists.

An incel who attributes their "inceldom" to their small skeletal frame.

An incel who works out, hoping to become more attractive. 

Any action taken by an incel to improve their appearance. These Include haircuts, working out, dietary changes.

A derogatory name, used by incels, for the archetype of men that women find attractive.

A derogatory name, used by incels, for attractive women. To incels, "Stacys" are only interested in "Chads."

Short for "normal," a derogatory term for people who are considered mainstream.

Decile Scale
A numerical scale to rate attractiveness level. Each number represents a different level of attractiveness. According to, the scale for men is: Trucel(1), Incel(2), Incelish(3), Melvin(4), Tanner(5), Brad(6), High-Tier Normie(7), Chad-Lite(8), Chad(9), Gigachad(10). And the scale for women is: Truecel(1), Femcel(2), Femcelish(3), Low-tier Becky(4), Becky(5-6), High-tier Becky ](7), Stacylite(8), Stacy(9), Gigastacy 10)

Blue, Red and Black Pills
Based on the film "The Matrix," these pills represent three different levels of awareness on a variety of social and political issues.

Blue Pill
Is meant to represent people who believe mainstream ideas. It's used as a derogatory term for people who have conventional views that people in these online forums consider ignorant.

Red Pill
A person who has had their eyes opened to alternative, often fringe ideologies that counter the prevailing ideas of mainstream society. People who refer to themselves as "redpilled" look at ideas like women's equality, liberalism, and racial justice as the downfall of Western civilization.

Black Pill
A term used by the incel community to refer to a fatalist and misogynistic view of society. The black pill represents a belief that their sexual prospects are doomed from birth, and that women are superficial and cruel.

A person who is not in employment, education or training. Commonly used to describe a person who rarely leaves the house.  

An unknown person.

Far-right movement known for anti-immigration and white nationalist beliefs. 

A derogatory term for women, used by many incels.

A derogatory term used on WizardChan to describe women.

A Japanese term used for a unsociable recluse who stays inside all the time and relies on their parents for support.

A combination of two numbers that are symbolic for white supremacists. The 14 represents the 14 words that make up a known white supremacist slogan: "We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children." The 88 stands for the phrase "Heil Hitler" because the letter "H" comes eighth in the alphabet.

The "Politically Incorrect" board on 4chan, known for racist, sexist and anti-Semitic comments.

The Random board on 4chan, known for graphic images. The Random board was the first board created on 4chan in 2003. 

Acronym for Live Action Role Playing. In incel communities it is used to describe someone pretending to be someone they are not.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.