“There will be bacon”
It started, as these things are wont to do, on 4Chan or Reddit. A couple of days ago; anonymous people posting anonymously “WHOA! Is this Real??” They gave no explanation, just an onion (i.e. dark web) link. The curious, of course, clicked. And they were greeted with a message:
It went on to say the site owners had captured seven ISIS terrorists whom they would humiliate (“there will be bacon”), torture and ultimately murder live on webcam at the allotted time and date.
Here, it seemed, the ultimate urban myth, was going to become a reality: The Red Room. The modern version of the snuff movie, a Red Room is a live stream of the torture and murder of a person for the entertainment of others. Sometimes viewers may interact, typing instructions on a screen Think of the movie Hostel and add webcams.
And it would be okay to watch! It was ISIS Terrorists getting tortured and killed for our viewing pleasure! And it was all going to be free!
Going darker in the dark web
It’s a tediously common question from those who have visited the Hidden Wiki (a dark web entrypoint for dummies; nicely-laid-out links to a couple of markets, and a whole lot of scams): “How can I go deeper in the deep web? Where’s the really dark stuff? (No cheese pizza* please)”
* child pornography
It is not altogether clear what these people are hoping to find (or what they consider darker than child pornography, particularly hurtcore), but they can usually be placated by sending them along to something like The Human Experiment . Later they will swear black and blue that it’s REAL, they’ve SEEN IT WITH THEIR OWN EYES. Others will insist that there are real-life gladiator fights to the death (there has to be, right?). Or they know someone who knows someone who got one of the Human Dolls. It’s all there, if only you look DEEP enough.
Of course, it is all** crap. Oh, and hitmen? The Nigerian scammers of the dark web.
** other than hurtcore, which is real, and involves children, and is not for this blog
So you can forgive me if I did not believe this ISIS Red Room thing for a second.
So back to our terrorists. Whispers had started: Is this real? Redditors posted RemindMe! bot requests to ensure they would be at their computers, logged in for when the “Red Room” began.
Nobody questioned how we would know that the people being tortured and killed were actual terrorists. The torturers had made some sort of vague comments about it all being funded by interested parties so that Tor users could watch without paying. They didn’t explain how they would give us any sort of video quality via Tor (I mean, seriously, have you tried streaming anything over Tor?) But it was on the internet! It must be true! And they were terrorists! No sympathy for them! A mob was born.
We had a date and time which, conveniently for me, was 10am on a Saturday. I was up early and when I checked the site it had updated with more detail of what we could expect in a few hours (which did not include originality or coherence apparently, but given the number of times they mentioned it was FREE could possibly include a set of steak knives):
We are working around the clock.
We are around a warzone and got more urgent things to worry about. But we will deliver and we will hit the deadline.
Maybe not under optimal circumstances as hoped, but the circumstances also makes things even worse for our ISIS pigs.
We are happy to tell you that we have executed two prisoners. The reality is not very beautiful or on our side right now.
Expect fun games, mingle and torture as promised. All interactive. Still fully free. We will make at least the first hour family friendly, and explicitly warn you before things get violent.
Changed plans about their final destiny, whether they live or die at the end of the day.
We won’t stop under any circumstances, torture MUST become death.
No pig have the right to survive today. Two dies. Three are shipped away. They have a nice career ahead of them, read below.
Our proposed business model was always about hurting/defaming ISIS and to fund their enemies.
Red rooms is a hard business and few can stomach it. It also means a lot of attention and extra hassle for us. Therefore, we’ll make a huge business of selling ISIS-assholes instead. That’s right. We will sell their assholes a.k.a. human trafficking.
We want to give ISIS-careers a promising future!
Here’s the best part. Since the funding is dealt with already, everyone get everything for free. All future executions online will be fully free.
We will also upload materials for free. We call it the “instagram” of happy ISIS whores or instagram of Jihad, what do you think? Having their asses sold is just too ironic to not document and eternalize and we promise exactly that.
We make Moviestars of Jihadists. It’s part of the non-optional ISIS-employment with us.
The conditions are good here for the “soldiers of god”. The dogfood (shit flavored) is free and we fill their water bowl with clean water and flavor it with piss.
It’s not our fault if they don’t eat, they called for it. They are such heroes. Again, support us by watching. That’s all we need.
Yet, we are not worse than them.
Enemies of Islamic State
The soon-to-be-killers had also opened up the chat room, but that became very boring very quickly. Spammers are really very spammy and the few non-spam things that came through were by teenage boys spouting semi-literate racist propaganda.
So I had a few hours to muse over what might be happening. I let my mind wander the possibilities.
Discounted this one pretty much right out the gate. It was just written too much like it came from teenagers who had found the dark web and thought it was a chance for…
A bit of a good troll
Occam’s Razor said that this was just another troll, much like the Human Experiment. The new accounts posting on Reddit all “oh my gosh I am a brand new person who just registered because I found this thing on the dark web – do you think it’s real?” pointed to someone trying desperately to drum up interest. Just keep people refreshing to see what would happen, hope it went viral from people talking about it.
Banal, but reasonable trolling effort, soon to be forgotten. But then, what if wasn’t just a troll, but…
It’s a lesson
Maybe I have too much faith in human nature, but I was hoping at the allotted time, the screen would fill up with something like “BUSTED YOU SICKO”. Even better would be a well-written admonishment of why you should not go looking for red rooms and the dangers of the mob mentality. But then they could go one further and…
It’s a social experiment
Would they actually put on a performance at the allotted time? Would they pretend to be torturing somebody and see how many people chimed in with their torture ideas? Like a Milgram Experiment for the times. See how many people would actually take part when the mob was saying it was okay. Because, terrorists.
Because, terrorists. A thought struck me! What if it was real, but…
It’s a trick
I had such an evil, devious creepypasta thought that I decided it was Reddit-worthy. What if, yes a social experiment, but an evil twisted one like…
But then I realized that this was pretty damn unlikely – when the URL was first posted a couple of days ago, I did a little investigating and whoever owned it had earlier posted on the Hidden Wiki talk page about how to get listed. They used similar bad-but-not-second-language English. Certainly not Arabic. And then I realised I had totally just created a plot for the next season of Black Mirror, so you can thank me when that airs.
Meanwhile, as I was going through these scenarios, somebody started posting and tweeting round the place that they would spam the fuck out of the chat room so the torture orders couldn’t get through.
Vigilantes! We don’t like terrorists, but we will not stoop to their level! We appeared out of nowhere just to carry out our awesome vigilantiness! It was pretty damn depressing to see the bloodthirsty mob scream them down, telling them the “terrorists” (remember, we had absolutely no proof the potential murder victims had any connection to ISIS) deserved what was coming. Much conflict and drama had been created. So I started to wonder if this could possibly be…
I could imagine this playing out on the chat rooms. A fight between good and evil, right and wrong! The vigilante spammers against the misguided vigilante murderers! More online hacker games! Or, finally…
The bloodthirsty mob seemed like the types pretty ready to click on any link that promised might lead to a bit of terrorist torture. Malware placement and IP harvesting would be child’s play for anyone so inclined.
I tell you, by the time I had my brekky and was on my sixth coffee, I couldn’t wait to see how this all panned out.
Countdown less than three minutes! What would happen? How would this pan out?
Conveniently, the website went down a couple of minutes shy of start time. Page Not Found! Unavailable! What ever could have happened? A rumour circulated that the FBI had put it under attack. Maybe ISIS had found out and stopped it! Did it simply buckle under the weight of all those people refreshing?
Now the whole thing could have moved into mythology right there. Eventually people would start whispers, which would get repeated three times, which would become fact. Like the gladiators and the hitmen and the human experiments, people would convince themselves that they heard what REALLY happened from someone who KNEW.
But like kids waiting for nighttime to let off their fireworks, they couldn’t contain themselves. Less than an hour later, the site reappeared and..
Thank you for participating, they said. All over, they said. Whoops, we lost the source footage. What happened to two hours of family-friendly fun before the torture started? What happened to the games, the interactivity, the frivolity they promised would go on for days?
I had no compunction looking at the video (other than the usual is this going to malware the hell out of my computer). I was pretty sure I was not going to be watching snuff. Offensive, maybe. Snuff, no.
The video is a little over 21 minutes long and very dull. Every time they carry out a punishment on the suspiciously pale-skinned jihadist, the video freezes. But…
There is bacon!
Overall, 2/5, would not watch again.
They are doing their best, but they have a way to go before they become really good hoaxers. They needed to plan the long con, so that its not just brand spanking newly registered Redditors who happened to be one of the few to see (and presumably contribute to) the live stream.
Update: 24 hours later, the site was replaced by an FBI “seizure notice” that was likely just as fake as the rest of the site. Apparently another site reopened, but it’s all become a bit boring. Still, there are some people who appear to be clinging to the notion that this whole thing is for real. Probably the same people who think Takedownman is a reporter, rather than an entertainer.
TL;DR Still no verified red rooms (or gladiator fights or hitmen or human experiments or living dolls) on the dark web.
You can buy drugs though. That bit’s true.
While you’re here, why don’t you check out my book Silk Road: the astonishing true story of the world’s most notorious drug market
AD: Don’t forget, it’s always smart to hide your IP from prying eyes, even if you’re not looking for Red Rooms. I use IPVanish