4chan

4chan logo

4chan is an anonymous English-language imageboard website. Launched by Christopher "moot" Poole in Oct 2003, the site hosts boards dedicated to a wide variety of topics, from anime and manga to video games, music, literature, fitness, politics, and sports, among others.

Quick Facts

Summary

  • Ranked #909th worldwide
  • Active users 20 M
  • Type Anonymous Networks
  • Launched date 1 Oct, 2010
  • Employees 93
  • Headquarters New York, NY, U.S.
  • Parent company None

Founders

person
Christopher Poole New York

Networks

  • Brand value In 2020 N/A
  • Revenue in 2020 $8 m
  • Net loss In 2020 N/A

Current Controversies

Current Controversies4chan controversies. (via makeuseofimages.com)

Internet attacks

May 2012 Following the death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin at the hands of George Zimmerman, discussions of race, gun control and how laws are interpreted dominated the news cycle. The issue of race, in particular, became contentious, with people claiming that Zimmerman shot Martin the night of Feb. 26 because he was black.

These claims angered one hacker named Klanklannon, who hacked Martin’s Facebook and email. Klanklannon posted screengrabs of emails Facebook messages to 4chan's politics board to show that Martin "somehow deserved to be killed," Gawker reported.

August 2008 The former Alaska governor had her email account broken into by a 4chan user during the 2008 election. The man behind the "hack" was David Kernell, a college student and son of state representative Mike Kernell of Memphis.

Kernell was able to access Palin's email account by using Yahoo's password recovery feature. He posted screenshots of the emails to 4chan's /b/ imageboard where they ultimately captured the world's attention. Kernell was ultimately arrested and charged with four felonies. He served one year and day in prison and is currently on probation.

May 2012 Following the death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin at the hands of George Zimmerman, discussions of race, gun control and how laws are interpreted dominated the news cycle. The issue of race, in particular, became contentious, with people claiming that Zimmerman shot Martin the night of Feb. 26 because he was black. These claims angered one hacker named Klanklannon, who hacked Martin’s Facebook and email. Klanklannon posted screengrabs of emails Facebook messages to 4chan's politics board to show that Martin "somehow deserved to be killed," Gawker reported.

Crashing Apple's Stock Price

In October 2008, 4chan was responsible for Apple stock losing 10 percent of its value when its members successfully spread a rumor about the death of Steve Jobs. The rumor said he'd suffered a massive heart attack.

NFL Bomb Threat

Between September and October of 2006, 22-year-old Jake Brahm posted at least 40 different threats on 4chan. One of them included a detailed plan to detonate 7 bombs at NFL stadiums in cities including New York, Atlanta and Miami.

"The death toll will approach 100,000 from the initial blasts and countless other fatalities will later occur as result from radioactive fallout," Brahm wrote, according to Tom's Guide.

Brahm was arrested and pleaded guilty to posting a bomb threat on the Internet. He ended up serving six months in prison.

A Swastika on Google

Because of the way Google's algorithms work, it's possible to game the system if you can get enough people on board. That's precisely what 4chan did in 2008 when it sent the swastika symbol to the top of Google's Hot Trends list. For a while, Google was stumped. It couldn't find the reason why it happened. Eventually, it was discovered a post on 4chan told users to search for the swastika's Unicode symbol.

Google was forced to issue an apology.

Murder in Port Orchard, Washington

According to court documents filed on November 5, 2014, there were images posted to 4chan that appeared to be of a murder victim. The body was discovered in Port Orchard, Washington, after the images were posted.

The posts were accompanied by the text: "Turns out it's way harder to strangle someone to death than it looks on the movies." A later post said: "Check the news for Port Orchard, Washington, in a few hours. Her son will be home from school soon. He'll find her, then call the cops. I just wanted to share the pics before they find me." The victim was Amber Lynn Coplin, aged 30.

The suspect, 33-year-old David Michael Kalac, surrendered to police in Oregon later the same day; he was charged with second-degree murder involving domestic violence. Kalac was convicted in April 2017 and was sentenced to 82 years in prison the following month.

Bianca Devins murder

On July 14, 2019, 17-year-old Bianca Devins was murdered by 21-year-old Brandon Clark of Utica, New York after the two went to a concert together. The suspect took pictures of the victim's bloodied deceased body and posted it to Discord and his own Instagram page. The photos were widely shared on Instagram and other sites, particularly on 4chan where many users mocked and celebrated her death, saying she deserved it and praising the killer while depicting Devins as a manipulative young woman. Devins had developed a small following online and was a 4chan user herself.

Celebrity photo leaks

On August 31, 2014, a large number of private photographs taken by celebrities were posted online due to a compromise of user passwords at iCloud. The images were initially posted on 4chan. As a result of the incident, 4chan announced that it would enforce a Digital Millennium Copyright Act policy, which would allow content owners to remove material that had been shared on the site illegally, and would ban users who repeatedly posted stolen material.

Cyberbullying

In January 2011, Matthew Riskin Bean, a 20-year-old man from New Jersey, was sentenced to 45 days in prison for cyberbullying on 4chan.

Gamergate

Also in August 2014, 4chan was involved in the Gamergate controversy, which began with unsubstantiated allegations about indie game developer Zoë Quinn from an ex-boyfriend, followed by false allegations from anonymous Internet users.

The allegations were followed by a harassment campaign against several women in the video game industry, organized by 4chan users, particularly /r9k/. Discussion regarding Gamergate was banned on 4chan due to alleged rule violations, and Gamergate supporters moved to alternate forums such as 8chan.

Anonymous and Anti-Scientology Activism

Anonymous and Anti-Scientology ActivismA protester at a 4-chan organized anti-Scientology rally, in 2011. (Melisa Toh/Flickr)

4chan has been labeled as the starting point of the Anonymous meme by The Baltimore City Paper, due to the norm of posts signed with the "Anonymous" moniker.

Through its association with Anonymous, 4chan has become associated with Project Chanology, a worldwide protest against the Church of Scientology held by members of Anonymous.

Original Idea

original ideaoriginal idea

The site was launched as 4chan.net on October 1, 2003 by Christopher Poole, a then-15-year-old student from New York City using the online handle "moot".

Poole had been a regular participant on Something Awful's subforum "Anime Death Tentacle Rape Whorehouse" (ADTRW), where many users were familiar with the Japanese imageboard format and Futaba Channel ("2chan.net").

When creating 4chan, Poole obtained Futaba Channel's open source code and translated the Japanese text into English using AltaVista's Babel Fish online translator.

After the site's creation, Poole invited users from the ADTRW subforum, many of whom were dissatisfied with the site's moderation, to visit 4chan, which he advertised as an English-language counterpart to Futaba Channel and a place for Western fans to discuss anime and manga.

Brief History

2003
Oct The website was launched as 4chan.net.

Creates four new imageboards: /c/ (Anime/Cute), /d/ (Hentai/Alternative), /w/ (Wallpapers/Anime), and /y/ (Yaoi), along with an oekaki BBS board.

Two new imageboards are created: /g/ (Guro), to clean the nastiest imagery on /h/, and /s/ (Sexy Beautiful Women).

Nov Poole resets img.4chan.net and deletes all posts, drops all MySQL tables, and reduces the maximum post limit for each board from 3000 to 750.

Two more imageboards are added: /a/ (Anime) and /l/ (Lolikon), because /c/ was flooded with NSFW images.

2004
Mar Poole announced that he lacked the funds to pay the month's server bill and that more donations will be required to pay it or 4chan will die.
Jun 4chan experienced six weeks of downtime after PayPal suspended 4chan's donations service after receiving complaints about the site's content.
Sep Three new boards are added: /k/ (Weapons), /o/ (Auto), and /sm/ (Shota/Male).
2008
Feb The following boards were added: "/fa/ - Fashion", "/fit/ - Health & Fitness", "/hc/ - Hardcore", "/n/ - Transportation" (Replacing /n/ - News), "/sp/ - Sports", "/toy/ - Toys", "/trv/ - Travel", "/ jp / - Japan / General" and "/ r9k / - ROBOT9000".
2011
Jan Poole announced the deletion of the /r9k/ ("ROBOT9000") and /new/ (News) boards.

The /soc/ board was created in an effort to reduce the number of socialization threads on /b/.

Oct /r9k/ was restored, along with /hc/ ("Hardcore", previously deleted).
Nov 4chan made the transition to utilizing Cloudflare following a series of DDoS attacks.
2012
May The 4chan imageboards were rewritten in valid HTML5/CSS3.

The /soc/ board was created in an effort to reduce the number of socialization threads on /b/.

Sep 4chan introduced a "4chan pass" that, when purchased, "allows users to bypass typing a reCAPTCHA verification when posting and reporting posts on the 4chan image boards". /r9k/ was restored, along with /hc/ ("Hardcore", previously deleted).
2015
Jan Poole stepped down as the site's administrator, citing stress from controversies such as Gamergate as the reason for his departure.
Sep Poole announced that Hiroyuki Nishimura had purchased from him the ownership rights to 4chan.
2016
Oct It was reported that the site was facing financial difficulties that could lead to its closure or radical changes.
2018
Nov It was announced that the site would be split into two, with the work-safe boards moved to a new domain, 4channel.org, while the NSFW boards would remain on the 4chan.org domain.

Network Features

Access the boards

Visit the homepage to see the board list: where you'll find a quick description of the page and a full list of boards. Since 4chan doesn't have a username and password system, you don't need to log in to view it.

Read through the rules and frequently asked questions (FAQs): Links to regulatory pages and frequently asked questions are located directly below the description on the home.

Browse through the board's pages: Read through the comment lines on the first page, then use the number at the bottom of the page to navigate to the other pages. You should "anonymously" or surf without posting if you just started using 4chan. Silently reading about a topic for two to three weeks will help you understand the culture and vocabulary of this community.page. If you're going to post something, it's a good idea to take the time to familiarize yourself with these to avoid getting banned.



Use catalog or archive views: The standard view will show the normal or OP (Original Poster: posts that start a topic) and the first five replies to that topic. You can also click the category link located just above the board's first post to go to a gallery page that includes the entire short, non-answer OP list. When you click on the archive link next to the category link, you'll see a list of posts that have expired in the last three days.

Find original posts by topic: You can enter keywords in the search bar on the standard view to filter posts. Search results will show up in a category view along with options for sorting posts by date or popularity. In the category view, the search bar will be on the right side of the screen. You can enter a search keyword here to start a new search or delete a search keyword to see the full list of posts.

Look up slang words you don't understand: There are many common slang words, vocabulary and abbreviations scattered all over 4chan. In addition, many boards have their own jargon and slang terms. When you come across a word, meme or comment line that is difficult to understand, you can search on Google or look up Urban Dictionary.

Surf 4chan Safely

Stay away from boards that contain content that may upset you.

Limit posting of personal information online.


Don't click on unfamiliar links.

Don't follow unsafe advice.

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