Controversial neo-Nazi website the Daily Stormer has moved to the dark web after being banished from the open internet, but members of Anonymous, an international network of hackers and activists, have already pledged to follow it into the shadows.
The website was blacklisted by hosting services including Google, GoDaddy and 101domain and ultimately forced underground after publishing an article targeting 32-year-old Heather Heyer, who was killed during a white supremacy protest in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Initially clinging to a top-level domain, the Daily Stormer's administrators – allegedly including two men called Andrew Anglin and Andrew Auernheimer – were hit with heavy distributed denial of service (DDoS) cyberattacks and widespread backlash.
On the dark web version of the website, Anglin appeared defiant, writing: "Everything is fine. We are going to work all of this into our favour. This amount of attention is the worst mistake these people ever made.
"No Retreat. No Surrender. Oh and f*** Heather Heyer."
"Right now, all of the articles are live here, weev is still working the bugs out," he added, referencing a pseudonym historically used by Auernheimer. But on 15 August, Motherboard reported even the dark web version was hit with DDoS assaults.
Even a day later, service remained patchy. The dark web domain was later changed to display the statement: "This is going to serve as a status page from now on while we are down". It posted a link to a top-level .ru domain, signifying that - at least for now - it is hosted in Russia.
One popular Twitter account used by Anonymous-linked hacktivists – dubbed TheAnonJournal – stated on Wednesday 16 August: "The Daily Stormer takes its web domain to the dark web. Anonymous vows to hunt both the website and the administrator down."
On PasteBin, a text-based hosting website, other members started to post lists of Twitter accounts reportedly linked to white supremacists and the so-called 'alt-right'. At the same time, mainstream websites including Reddit and Facebook made fresh moves to combat racist content.
"We plan on shutting this entire Nazi/KKK thing down," one hacktivist linked to the Anonymous movement told IBTimes UK via Twitter message. "We're taking steps to ensure that [they] will they be wiped from the face of the web," another contact asserted.
The warnings came 24 hours after the group announced the launch of two new operations – titled "OpDomesticTerrorism" and "Day to Denounce". In a prior statement, it slammed the reaction to the violence by US president Donald Trump and pledged to ramp up digital protests.
"We are essentially giving the nation a day to purge itself of all confederate statues," a contact with TheAnonJournal account told IBTimes UK.
"We'll let the people decide what they want to do, and I think we've seen the past few days they have decided to take action and take down these symbols of hate. We're just giving ourselves a day to collectively denounce it together. Expect more aggressive campaigns."