The Brief: Also called Infinitechan or Infinity-chan, 8Chan is an imageboard website with a history for promoting child pornography, violence against women, and white supremacy.
People thrive on anonymity and the things it enables them to do and say.
Before there was 8Chan, there was 4Chan. Created in the mid-2000’s, the concept seemed innocent enough – a simple, easy-to-use, image-based bulletin board where anyone could post comments and share images anonymously, similar to Reddit. As with many similar chat boards and apps, it didn’t take long for free-speech to devolve into hate-speech.
“Embrace Infamy.” – 8Chan
What started as an incubator of memes, 4Chan made national news when members of the hacking group Anonymous started gathering there to plan pranks. When 4Chan decided to ban Gamergate threads because they were being used to “post personal information and plan attacks”, users moved on to 8chan, a site with even looser moderation policies.
8chan was created in 2013 by computer programmer Fredrick Brennan, who described it as a “free-speech-friendly” alternative to 4chan. The Washington Post has described it as “the more-lawless, more-libertarian, more ‘free’ follow-up to 4chan”. Since the site’s creation, Brennan has ceased to support the site, even calling for the site to be “shut down” after it’s been linked to multiple mass shootings by white supremacist terrorists.
Currently, 8chan is financed and owned by U.S. army veteran, Jim Watkins. Watkins has been very clear when it comes to what is an is not allowed on his site, going so far as to say that he does “not have a problem with white supremacists talking on 8chan.” Without Watkins’ financial support, it’s unlikely the site would still exist today.
8chan’s homepage has been removed from Google’s search index since 2015.
To own a board, one must either create it or claim it. Due to the “almost-anything-goes” policy of the site, many subjects of these boards range from misogynistic to the most depraved and violent. It has a board called “/baph/”, which is dedicated to doxing people. On numerous public boards, users have shared graphic images of children, plus links to hardcore child pornography – thousands of posts are accessible within two clicks of the homepage. Perhaps the most notable have been the various boards where white supremacists share their angry, hateful messages.
New Zealand Terrorist Attack
Shortly before the Christchurch mosque terror attacks on Friday March 15th in New Zealand, an 8Chan user posted about a plan to carry out and live stream an attack. At least 49 people were killed in the attack and part of the event was live-streamed on Facebook.
The Christchurch shooter posted a manifesto on 8chan and shouted "subscribe to PewDiePie" before opening fire on the mosque, livestreaming the whole thing. The internet is 1000% a vehicle for right-wing radicalisation.
— Andrew Todd (@mistertodd) March 15, 2019
I feel sick. Just clicked a link and saw the 8chan post where the NZ shooter literally told his racist buddies he was heading off to commit mass murder and they all responded with video game memes and cheered him on.
— Eric Lubbers 🗻 ☀️ (@brofax) March 15, 2019
El Paso Terrorist Attack
At least 20 people were killed and 27 were wounded in a mass shooting at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas on Saturday, August 3, 2019. Before the attack, the alleged shooter posted a racist and violent “manifesto” to 8chan. On Sunday night, the company that provided internet security services for 8chan, Cloudflare, announced that it would no longer provide for 8chan. Since then, the providers of similar services, as well as the site’s domain name host have refused to continue to provide 8chan with their services. Such bans mark a significant blow to the site, but it’s been predicted that 8chan will find a way to get back online.