The forum formerly known as 8chan reemerged on Saturday, under a slightly different name: 8kun. The reboot is the site’s first time online since it went dark in August, after it was linked to multiple mass-shootings targeting Muslims, Jews, and people of color.
8kun, a Japanese pun riffing on the name “8chan,” is almost identical to the old site, where the alleged killers behind shootings in Christchurch, New Zealand; Poway, California; and El Paso, Texas posted far-right manifestos in support of racist killings. 76 people died across the three attacks. After the massacre at an El Paso Walmart in August, 8chan’s web service companies dropped it as a client, effectively taking the site offline.
8chan’s relaunch has been hampered by the unwillingness of web companies to work with the online messageboard. Cloudflare, a cybersecurity famous for its reluctance to ban clients, kicked 8chan to the curb in August, making it difficult for the site to stay online.
Domain registrar Tucows also dropped 8chan in August. But Tucows has been listed as the registrar for 8kun for more than 50 days. When 8kun first teased its reappearance last month, Tucows told Vice that it was unaware of the 8chan relaunch and that it was investigating. (In fact, The Daily Beast had reached out to Tucows days prior to the Vice story. Tucows has not responded to that inquiry, or to a second request on Saturday.) Tucows is still listed as the 8kun registrar.
The site’s attempts to return have also been hampered by 8chan founder Fredrick Brennan, who split with the site in 2016. Brennan now expresses regrets about the forum’s trajectory, and has kept a running Twitter log of the web companies that do business with 8kun.
Many of 8chan’s users dispersed back onto other websites like its precursor 4chan after 8chan went dark. But one vocal contingent of conspiracy theorists have consistently called for the site’s return.
8chan was the only place where the person behind the QAnon conspiracy theory could reliably post. Followers of the QAnon theory falsely accuse President Donald Trump’s enemies of being involved in a ring of maybe-Satanic child sex-trafficking and cannibalism, among other crimes. The conspiracy stems from a person who posted on 8chan under a handle that could only be created using a specific tripcode (like a password that generates a specific username). With 8chan down, the person or people behind the posts had no method of authenticating themselves on other forums. But the old tripcode should work on the new site, an 8kun employee said.
“The tripcode system has not been changed, so it will work the same as it did before,” administrator Ron Watkins told The Daily Beast.
Within a few hours of the forum’s relaunch, Watkins warned followers that a technical problem was accidentally revealing users’ IDs.