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Former members of 8chan have scattered across the internet after the far-right site was shut down over the weekend, finding new homes in other rightwing sites, on encrypted messaging services, and on major social media platforms.
The anonymous nature of 8chan can make it difficult to track where its followers are going, said Joan Donovan, the director and lead researcher of the Technology and Social Change Research Project at the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard Kennedy School. Among the sites 8chan users appear to be relocating to is Gab, the forum frequented by the alleged shooter in the November Pittsburgh synagogue attack.
Decker noted there had also been discussion in the 8chan community about moving to lesser-known services. Some users may also just be returning to 4chan, the message board that predated 8chan and enforces more rules on hate 8ch.net webcam. An analysis from the web analytics service SimilarWeb found traffic to both sites peaked on 4 August, the day after the El Paso shooting. In recent days, a replica of the site has emerged on the deep web, said Decker, referring to unindexed internet s that require a special browser to access.
He added that a separate mirror version of the forum went up on Zeronet, an alternative to the dark web that requires you to host content on your own computer.
Former 8chan members have warned users that by downloading Zeronet they may be inadvertently hosting child abuse images on their computers. Encrypted messaging platforms, too, may be providing the 8chan community ways to communicate. Telegram has seen an uptick in far-right speech as users migrate to the anonymous service, Decker said.
Donovan, too, said her research was showing that discussions once prevalent on 8chan were increasingly popping up on Telegram chats. And other 8chan users have spoken on Twitter about moving to Discord, a voice and text app. Telegram and Discord did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
That 8chan has been pushed further underground has both positive and negative effects, experts say. But it could also make 8ch.net webcam more difficult to monitor dangerous speech, and help allow hate movements to proliferate.
While underground and encrypted platforms are seeing an increase in traffic, more mainstream platforms may also see an influx of 8chan users, Decker said. And those platforms have been slow to block the 8chan spillover. Some 8chan users appear to be gathering in the comment sections of YouTube videos and others in private Facebook groups dedicated to the QAnon conspiracy theory. Tracking the spread of these communities is difficult, and so far, tech companies have focused on removing violent images, rather than addressing the language that slowly radicalizes users. Facebook automatically blocks links from the Daily Stormer, a white supremacist message board that was widely deplatformed after it was linked to violence in Charlottesville inbut links from Gab, 8chan, and 4chan are still categorically allowed.
A Facebook spokeswoman told the Guardian the company blocked links to other sites when the content violates community standards on a case by case basis. In 8ch.net webcam aftermath of El Paso, Facebook blocked links to sites that contained the manifesto posted by the shooter.
YouTube told the Guardian it was removing comments that violated its community guidelines, but the videos themselves remain. The company declined to say whether it plans to address 8chan users moving to the platform and YouTube still allows links from 8chan and 4chan to be posted in comment sections for videos.
El Paso shooting. This article is more than 1 year old. An anti-Trump demonstrator yells near police outside the University medical center, where Donald Trump holds a meeting with first responders after the El Paso shootings. Kari Paul in San Francisco.
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