The owners of 8chan, the defunct message board that was filled with hate speech and hosted the rants of at least three mass shooters, are preparing to relaunch the site under a new name — and they want their old hate-speech enthusiast users to sign up.
The site is set to be rebranded and relaunched as 8kun, and its owner, NT Technology, is calling on the operators of the old message boards on 8chan to contact them in order to get them back up and running.
In a tweet on Wednesday, the operators said: “If you were previously a Board Owner on 8chan, please email us at email@example.com with your shared secret if you are interested in migrating your board to 8kun.”
The “shared secret” refers to an account-recovery system that includes a randomly generated password given to board owners only once. If their board gets hacked, the admins could send the password to 8chan's admin to regain control of the board.
8chan was taken offline in the wake of the El Paso shooting in August, because web infrastructure companies like Cloudflare pulled their support.
The man suspected of conducting the massacre in the El Paso Walmart on Aug. 3 posted a four-page rant to 8chan attempting to explain his actions. In March, the man who allegedly killed dozens of people at two New Zealand mosques posted a screed to the site just before the attack. Weeks later, the suspect in the shooting at a synagogue in Poway, California, did the same.
So far very little is known about what Jim Watkins, owner of NT Technology, and his son Ron, who was 8chan’s administrator, are planning with 8kun.
The official Twitter account of 8kun posted a Hollywood-style video on Sunday revealing the 8kun name and logo (a snake in the shape of an 8) with the video featuring flames, thunder and lightning, and some very dramatic music.
The name appears to be an attempt to show the website is growing up. In Japanese, the suffix “chan” typically refers to a child, while “kun” typically refers to a young man.
The new website is offline, but it has been registered with Tucows, the same company that banned 8chan in August. Tucows told VICE News that it was unaware of the situation and was looking into it.
Ron Watkins, who has been periodically promising a return for 8chan in recent months, tweeted on Sunday: “After a few weeks of building new groundwork to better protect user privacy and security, we are now in the final stretches before getting things back online. Beta testing of infrastructure in progress — verifying and confirming that all systems are functioning as expected.”
In September, in response to 8chan’s role in the series of mass shootings, the House Homeland Security Committee subpoenaed Jim Watkins to testify in a closed-door session, which lasted for hours.
In a prepared statement submitted to the committee, Watkins said 8chan “may come back online, but only when 8chan is able to develop additional tools to counter illegal content under United States law.”
Fred Brennan, the estranged founder of 8chan, calls the rebuild and re-brand effort a cynical attempt to make people think 8kun is completely different than 8chan.
Brennan says he doesn’t think a lot of people will sign up, but says that the success of 8kun hinges on the return of the QAnon crowd.
QAnon, a wild conspiracy theory that revolves around the claim that deep-state liberal elites are running a child sex trafficking ring, has captured the imaginations of President Trump’s most ardent MAGA supporters. QAnon supporters regularly appear at Trump’s rallies, and the FBI has warned that the movement could inspire domestic terrorists.
The conspiracy theory's mysterious leader “Q” told his followers that his communications would never occur outside of 8chan and that 8chan was the military's chosen platform for leaking intel.
So when 8chan went offline in August, the QAnon community were left adrift.
“I expect one of his first "drops" on 8kun will be to post a key so that “Q” can use other platforms in the future,” Brennan said. “That's why, if you ask me, it's so crucial that 8kun never be allowed to fully come online — if it does, QAnon can spread. Without it, QAnon is essentially dead.”
Cover: Jim Watkins/YouTube.