The internet can be an eerie place and the Red Room is just one example of how depraved and terrifying it can be.
Most of us are familiar with typical internet safety protocols. Never give out too much information, especially not your current location or address. Don’t share your photos with strangers you don’t trust. And lastly, use a VPN of some sort.
Now, that might be overkill for some of you because VPNs, despite their growing popularity, still haven’t been universally adopted. But hey, you get the gist. Stranger danger has always been a thing, even in the days of analog, and the anonymity of the internet heightens that sense of danger.
But some of you have no sense of self-preservation, right?
There are people out there reading this who actually like exposing themselves to danger by actively seeking out the most dangerous content on the internet. Internet users in the early 2010s might remember a little website called the Silk Road, an online black market where drugs, weapons, and illicit services could be bought with a trendy new currency called Bitcoin.
It was around the time that the Silk Road began to gain mainstream popularity for its seedy reputation that rumors of the Red Room started to surface online. People who claimed to have seen the Red Room spread rumors about the existence of a dark web viewing room where you could pay to watch people be tortured to their deaths.
As the rumor grew, so too did its reputation. Changes in the rumor started to include creepier possibilities like being haunted by a ghost or becoming one of the live stream’s unfortunate stars.
So, what exactly was the Red Room?
What Is the Red Room?
The Red Room is supposedly a live stream viewing room that can only be accessed on the dark web or deep web, depending on who describes it. Either way, it boils down to this: it’s a mysterious viewing room that exists in parts of the internet that can’t be accessed by your regular internet surfer.
As to why a live stream would be hidden when the point of them is to be watched by thousands of people, that comes down to the content that the Red Room has. According to accounts given at the time, the Red Room exclusively streamed illegal content.
The illegal content was said to include execution videos from extremist groups and cartels, autopsies, snuff videos where animals would be stomped to death, women being raped live on the stream, and, the worst of them, children being raped and murdered after.
It’s pretty gruesome, to say the least.
Here’s the thing, though: you don’t have to be on the dark web to find that kind of content. Anonymous forums like 4chan have played host to photographs of rape pornography that straddle the line between consensual non-consent play and reality.
It’s not just 4chan either — there are hundreds of non-dark web sites where you can easily gain access to rape porn, scat porn, and zoophilia porn. If you don’t think that’s possible, remember two girls one cup? The video is still floating around on the “regular” web today.
As for the autopsy videos, those get uploaded every day to YouTube by medical students and professionals alike for educational purposes. The torture and murder? R/NarcoFootage has your back. It’s a subreddit that collects images and videos of cartel members, whether those involve them innocently drinking together, shooting or being shot by police officers, or getting violently beheaded with a machete.
In fact, one of the trending videos on the subreddit at the time this article was written was one that featured a CJNG cartel member getting their head hacked off with a machete by an LFM member. Yeah, don’t click on those links unless you have a strong stomach.
Thankfully, when it’s real child pornography, not the lolicon type that depicts underaged anime characters being raped, the chances of stumbling into it are slim to none unless you actually go on the dark web.
Before you wonder why I know all this, no, I am not involved with any form of organized crime nor am I a regular user of these sites. I was, and maybe still am, just someone who might be too curious for their own good.
Being a Gen Z-er, I practically grew up on the internet. It’s my third parent, if you will. Problem is, this also meant my real parents had no idea what I was getting up to online. While I did have enough common sense not to seek out child predators, I was hanging out with edgy internet teens who were also testing the limits of what could be legally seen on the internet.
So when we started hearing about a mysterious dark web Red Room, some of us started to download Tor, a browser that lets users access the deep web, to see it for themselves. I can’t remember whether those other kids actually found something, but I do remember backing out just as I was about to hit download and it was all because of an urban legend about the Red Room.
The Red Room Was Originally a Japanese Urban Legend
Around the same time that mainstream media began to panic about the illicit contents of the Silk Road and the rest of the dark web, a small but growing community of horror-obsessed internet users started to gather the world’s spookiest stories onto several fan sites.
They called them “creepypasta” stories, a corruption of the phrase “copy and paste” but with a horror twist as a way of referencing the horror stories that these scare enthusiasts would, well, copy and paste on other parts of the internet. Moderation was rarer then, so you would see creepypastas everywhere on Facebook, Tumblr, and YouTube comments.
While the first creepypasta, Ted the Caver, wasn’t a web-focused horror, the ones that followed it were. The next creepypastas that led up to the community’s boom all took something from the internet or other modern tech and made it horrifying.
A major subgenre of these were video game horrors that involved the protagonist finding a mysterious game cartridge that turned out to be haunted by satanic Sonic the Hedgehogs and malevolent Super Marios.
Alongside it, the story of the Red Room curse started to gain traction among Western netizens.
The Red Room curse is Japanese in origin and is said to have started in the late 1990s. Creepypastas about the Red Room curse claimed that it was a supernatural computer virus that slowly drove the user insane to the point that they would commit suicide.
There’s no “trigger event” for the Red Room curse to occur. According to stories like this one, the curse just kind of happens to you. There’s no going to the deep web to experience it for yourself and no specific sites or searches to avoid unless you count never going online again as a countermeasure.
The Red Room curse starts with a simple question in a red pop-up window appearing on your screen.
“Do you like?” The pop-up will ask while a cutesy female voice reads it for you. Trying to close the pop-up window leads to an error message that tells you your computer is about to have an error.
The error, instead of giving you a blue screen of death, will lock your screen into displaying the pop-up window. The only option to interact with the pop-up is an “OK” button that, once pressed, begins to fill the screen with a red background or red pop-ups.
Attempts to close the windows or unplug your computer will just lead to the question completing itself as the rest of the sentence begins to slowly appear until you’re faced with the words:
“Do you like the Red Room?”
No one is sure what happens after this and the mystery is why the urban legend is so effective. You don’t know when it’s going to happen to you, if it can be avoided, nor what will happen to you if the curse finds you. The only information about the aftermath of the Red Room curse is that you will be found dead with your room bathed in the red of your own blood.
It’s you. You’re the Red Room.
Right before I started working on this article, I was attending a virtual meeting. What does this have to do with the Red Room? Well, sometime during that call, my screen started flickering red.
Let’s hope that’s just my graphics card being wonky because while the urban legend of the Red Room isn’t real, the contents of its dark web version totally are.
The Red Room Might Not Be Real but Their Contents Are
There’s still no census on whether the Red Room, as it’s advertised to be, actually exists. While it’s not hard to believe that there are a ton of illegal activity happening on the dark web, its relatively bare-bones capabilities versus that of the regular web also make claims of its non-existence believable.
The reason? Many dark web users have claimed that it’s physically impossible to stream live videos on the dark web because there is, and I quote, “not enough bandwidth on Tor to do it.”
But whether or not the Red Room itself exists doesn’t matter as much as the fact that its contents do. Aside from the easy access we already have to most of the content that’s rumored to be “dark web only,” history has shown that the internet is home to more criminals than you think.
Mainstream media would introduce your average joe to the reality behind the Red Room sometime in 2014 with the reveal of a video that is so outlandishly violent that people believed it was just another Creepypasta-related hoax.
The video was called “Daisy’s Destruction.” Its name fittingly manages to sound like the title of a bad porn film or overly edgy Creepypasta. The video itself featured an 18-month-old Southeast Asian-looking girl being raped and tortured.
Her tormentor appeared to be a woman, though her identity proved difficult to confirm because she was wearing a mask. The motivation for killing and raping the girl? A price tag of $10,000 for everyone who wanted a copy of the video.
“Daisy’s Destruction” wasn’t the first of its kind. Even back then, there was already a name for that type of illegal pornography: hurtcore. Most of hurtcore pornography features children and finding adult hurtcore is apparently rare. Back in the 2010s, hurtcore was mainly peddled on the dark web by a guy who went by “Lux” who made a name for himself as the “King of Hurtcore” for running several hurtcore websites.
Lux turned out to be 22-year-old Australian student Matthew Graham.
Though he was liable for several crimes relating to child pornography, he wasn’t the one who made “Daisy’s Destruction.” That honor goes to another Australian by the name of Peter Scully who was found guilty of creating the video through his production company, No Limits Fun, with the help of Liezyl Margallo. Together, the two would entice poor Filipino children with food and money before subjecting them to rape and torture.
The Legacy of the Red Room Hoax
When you talk about something as dark as the Red Room, it’s bound to get ugly fast. But to lift your spirits a bit, not everything that the Red Room is associated with is illegal and morally depraved.
A common variant of the Red Room urban legend is that if you go to the dark web looking for Red Rooms, you’ll eventually be tracked down by the person running the stream. This results in you becoming the new star of the next Red Room stream. This version is what developer Cheong TV went with in his indie game, Red Room.
Now go draw a salt circle around your computer or something.