Why The 4chan Sale Returns The Controversial Forum To Its Anime Roots

22 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

4chan Just Sold to the Founder of the Original ‘Chan’.

4chan, the imageboard credited with giving birth to countless internet memes, has been sold to Japanese businessman Hiroyuki Nishimura, the owner of 2channel.In a move that brings 4chan “full circle,” founder Christopher Poole sold the popular anonymous message board to Hiroyuki Nishimura, he announced Monday. “Hiroyuki is a pioneer in the world of anonymous communities, and can be thought of as the great-grandfather of 4chan,” Poole wrote, noting Nishimura created his site’s anime- and manga-focused predecessor, 2Channel. “None of us would be using 4chan today — or potentially any anonymous image board — if it weren’t for him.” Though 4chan also focused specifically on Japanese pop culture when it launched in 2003, in recent years it has been best known for the hoaxes and pranks its users often orchestrate. Christopher Poole, who founded 4chan in 2003 as a teenager and saw it grow into a major player in digital culture, is selling 4chan to Japanese message board founder Hiroyuki Nishimura.

Today 4chan founder Christopher “moot” Poole announced that the anonymous image sharing site 4chan, which he created when he was just 15, was acquired by Hiroyuki Nishimura. Nishimura, who was recently appointed editor of Variety Japan, was the founder of 2channel, the wildly popular Japanese image-board on which 4chan was originally modelled when it was started in 2003. 4chan quickly overshadowed its Japanese-language cousin in influence, if not in raw traffic, however, to become one of the most influential – and one of the most controversial – websites.

The site now sees more than 20 million visitors each month, a feat Poole accomplished without help from full-time employees or venture capital, The New York Times reports. Revelling in its reputation as the filthy, sweaty engine-room of the internet, 4chan – and especially the /b/ (random) board, the site’s first board – was the originator and hub of a vast amount of internet subculture including “LOLcats” and the practice of “Rickrolling”, in which an unsuspecting user is tricked into clicking on a link which takes them to the YouTube video of Rick Astley’s Never Gonna Give You Up – a practice which re-booted Astley’s career. 4chan is also largely credited with being where the online hacktivist collective Anonymous originated, and it was at the center of the nude celebrity photo leak known as “the fappening” in 2014. In a post on 4chan Moot announced that Nishimura had taken his place, following his January announcement that he would be stepping down as the site’s sole administrator. He said that he and Nishimura were “fast friends” who had bonded “over our shared passion for creating and managing online communities”. “He is one of few individuals with a deep understanding of what it means to provide a digital home for tens of millions of people for more than a decade. His creation of 2channel in 1999 sparked an era of anonymous-centric web culture in Japan that led to the creation of Futaba Channel, the site that inspired 4chan.

There is nobody more qualified than Hiroyuki to lead 4chan, and I can’t think of a person better suited for the task,” Poole’s statement continued. “4chan sits on the eve of two great milestones – its 2 billionth post and 12th birthday. It also means 4chan’s laissez-fair, let’s-all-cum-on-anime-figurines-and-phone-in-bomb-threats-to-high-schools ethos probably won’t change—in a 2008 profile in Wired, Nishimura appeared as committed as Moot to letting bad shit happen on his website: Nishimura has lost about 50 lawsuits and owes millions of dollars in penalties, which he has no intention of paying. “If the verdict mandates deleting things, I’ll do it,” he says. “I just haven’t complied with demands to pay money.

Would a cell phone carrier feel responsible when somebody receives a threatening phone call?” 4channers seem unusually pleased with the news, and the use of racial slurs against Nishimura is so far minimal: “This is the best thing that could have happened honestly,” commented one user. “At least it’s someone we know has experience.” Another asked “are we honorary japs now?” The discussions and activity that take place on 4chan are almost entirely free of any moderation, and the sale of the site, along with the business considerations that accompany such a deal, could threaten the site’s lawless reputation. Among other things, it was the birthplace of the Anonymous hacktivist movement, which spread from a campaign against Scientology to a broad umbrella that can cover everything from anti-surveillance protests to hacks of major security companies. And if you’ve ever been rickrolled, you have 4chan to blame. 2channel, an anonymous text-based Internet forum, has been similarly influential in Japan and, in fact, though it may be less of a household name in America, it is actually more popular worldwide according to Alexa, a site that measures web site popularity across the world.

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