8chan, Telegram, far-right extremism|Aug 07, 2019|Joshua Fisher-Birch, Content Review Specialist

Users of 8chan’s /Pol Board Move to Other Websites

Now that 8chan and its notorious /pol board are no longer accessible following the El Paso terrorist attack, former users of the site are seeking alternatives. It is likely that 8chan will eventually find an Internet services company willing to do business with them, but until then, the site has remained offline. Some users have moved to an unofficial 8chan clone, while others will most likely move to the Telegram chat program.

Shortly after 8chan went down, an unofficial version of the site (known as 08chan) became active on ZeroNet, a decentralized peer-to-peer network. As long as a site on ZeroNet has seeders, which are users who share content, it cannot be removed. 8chan administrators claimed on their Twitter account that they did not know who created the 08chan copycat. It is unclear how many users 08chan has, a post announcing the creation of the board on August 5 had more than 200 replies over a period of two days later. Posts on 08chan have celebrated the El Paso terrorist attack and urged additional violence, including similar attacks on public places.

The extreme right-wing Telegram landscape may grow as a result of the loss of 8chan. Following the banning of many of ISIS’s online supporters from Twitter and Facebook, Telegram became the primary conduit for sharing propaganda, news, and advice and guides on committing terror attacks. Currently, over 50 Telegram channels exist dedicated to various extreme right-wing ideologies and groups. While some channels measure their viewers by the dozens, others have more than 1,600 subscribers. In addition to channels, there are is unknown number of extreme far-right users of Telegram who can communicate directly once they locate one another.

Other imageboards with their own /pol communities might grow as a result. While 8chan was created in response to perceived community crackdowns on 4chan, there is ideological overlap between the two sites. Additionally, other imageboards have their own /pol communities that could experience growth if 8chan is not quickly re-platformed.

While 8chan is currently offline, their users will undoubtedly go to other parts of the Internet. Hardcore users of the site are no less extreme in the absence of the forum. Even though groups and propagandists will continue to spread hate online and seek to incite violence, it will at least for a moment, be more difficult for them to do so. In the aftermath of another tragedy, no one will be able to access radicalizing boards on 8chan, drawn there by the words and actions of terrorists and mass murderers.