Hate-filled, extreme right message board 8chan has been banned by major telcos and dumped by hosting providers – now it can be revealed the website has turned to blockchain technology in a desperate bid to stay online.
On August 3 in the moments before the El Paso Walmart Shooting, in which 20 people were killed, a four-page post written by the gunman appeared on 8chan. ‘Brothers’ on the website were encouraged to spread the post.
In the days that followed, 8chan’s web hosting provider Tuscow dropped the message board. Cybersecurity provider, CloudFare, also said it would cease to provide services to 8chan.
A number of telcos across the world have also blocked the website.
The owner of 8chan, US military veteran Jim Watkins, was left scrambling to keep his hate forum online.
“8chan is an empty piece of paper for writing on, it is disturbing to me that it can be so easily shut down… So it becomes time to find a new home,” said Watkins in a YouTube video, posted shortly after CloudFlare’s announcement.
“Think of 8chan as a large community of one million people that are now looking for a home.”
Bitcoin cryptography provides ‘new home’
8Chan now appears to have found a new home on decentralised peer-to-peer network ZeroNet.
ZeroNet is known as a ‘dark-web’ alternative that uses the underlying cryptography behind Bitcoin to host and identify websites.
Unlike normal websites which are identified by an IP address, ZeroNet’s sites are identified by a private key which allows sites to accept Bitcoin directly.
There has however been some confusion over 8chan’s emergence on the ZeroNet platform, despite it reportedly functioning well.
An 8chan administrator posting on Twitter, “8chan on ZeroNet was not made by our team and I have no idea who set that up.”