While even your 89-year-old typewriter understands the possibility of stumbling upon seriously disturbing message boards across the Internet, she likely fails to realize how disturbing hidden Internet message boards can be. That is, if they are trying to hide at all. While some of the worst Internet message boards hail from the dark web, others remain accessible from a regular browser, yet can still get downright terrifying. From cannibals seeking cannibals to disturbing sexual fantasies that only Jeffrey Dahmer would be into, the Internet - for better or for worse - pretty much has it all. In this case, it's definitely for worse.
Some of the most evil message boards on the Internet you might already know (hello, 4chan). Some of the more nefarious and niche-based forums, however, exist in the bowels of the dark web, where bitcoin, pornography, and lots of sexism unfortunately reign supreme. All of them, however, really aren't ones you want turning up in your browser history.
The forum 4chan, known to the mainstream world as the website connected to the 2014 celebrity nude photo link, hosts a subforum known only as /b/. One of two boards on the site, the other known as /a/ and used exclusively used for discussions of anime, the “/b/” forum is dedicated to "random" content, though posters typically define random as "gruesome." Though child pornography is banned, most everything else remains free reign, including violent pornography, posts encouraging racism and misogyny, and photos of dead people. Many also accused /b/ of organizing real-life harassment against people who criticize the message board's content.
Especially disturbing about the /b/ forum is that it allows for complete anonymity, a feature that inadvertently gave rise to hacktivist clan Anonymous. To join 4chan, users need not even provide an email address. On the /b/ forum, rather than being archived, conversations are deleted as new content arrives. This helps hide any evidence of harassment and illegal activity. While the argument for online anonymity holds merit of its own, /b/ makes this argument much harder to prove.
Stealthing is a disturbing act of sexual violence in which a man secretly removes a condom during intercourse. If you want to lose your faith in humanity, spend a few minutes on a pro-stealthing forum forum. On these online communities, male posters vehemently declare their right to unprotected sex.
Some posters even claim that, if women get pregnant via stealthing, it’s their own fault and they deserve it.
Some of the most commonly searched topics on the deep web relate to hiring hitmen or assassins to take out personal enemies or even public figures. One of the most chilling examples is the Assassination Market, which some describe as a Kickstarter for murder.
Users add names of their targets to the market's roster. Other users then contribute to the murder fund via bitcoins. Predictions are made regarding when the victim will die, and the lucky person who makes the closest prediction takes home a hefty pool of bitcoins as a reward.
The site's founder doesn't see much wrong with the practice. In a statement found on the website's FAQ, he writes:
“Killing is in most cases wrong, yes. However, as this is an inevitable direction in the technological evolution, I would rather see it in the hands of me than somebody else. By providing it cheaply and accurately I hope that more immoral alternatives won’t be profitable or trusted enough. This should primarily be a tool for retribution."
Because apparently the founder possesses somewhat of a conscience, users cannot post a hit on a doctor for providing abortions or a musician for making terrible music. In his words, hits need to come with "good reasons."
Yes, that’s right – forums, as in plural. From the moment Al Gore invented the Internet, the web has hosted multiple forums designed for cannibals seeking other cannibals. The most notorious, shut down by the government in 2002, was Cannibal Café. Here, users sought people to meet up for consensual acts of cannibalism. Usually, one person consented to having part of their body eaten by another willing participant. Because community is everything, members also asked for advice about cooking and prepping human flesh.
After a chilling case in which a poster on Cannibal Café killed and ate another man, the site shut down. An archival version still exists, and the government cannot crack down on all cannibal websites out there, especially considering the presence of the dark web. If you lurk long enough online, there are still some forums today for cannibals, where interestingly enough they tolerate no offensive words.