The most toxic community on the internet is homeless

8chan, home of mass shooters, QAnon and the cradle of GamerGate is finding it hard to get back online. And its founder it working to keep it that way.

Adam Tinworth
Adam Tinworth

8chan, which has an excellent claim to being the most toxic online community on the internet, is struggling to find a new home, as more and more services refuse to host the board on their servers.

What’s really interesting, as Mike Rothschild reports for The Daily Dot, is that the founder of the site, Fredrick Brennan, is trying to keep it offline:

Brennan created 8chan in 2013 as a free-speech alternative to what he saw was increasing censorship and moderation on other boards, but sold the site to Watkins in 2016. Since then, he has not only called for it to be shut down, but has actively tried to keep Watkins from bringing it back.

WIRED ran a great piece on Brennan and his shifting view of his creation back in the summer:

In the days following the New Zealand shooting, Brennan began fielding numerous requests from the media looking for insight into 8chan and its users. Instead of the full-throated defense of the site tinged with a hostility toward the media that he’d served up in the past, Brennan began offering more introspective comments. He questioned the direction the website had taken and claimed the administrators were too slow to remove violent threats.

It’s a compelling story of a young man beginning to wake up to what he’s actually created - and which makes his current campaign to stop it coming back online all the more understandable.

QAnon is QHomeless

What’s also fascinating is how this ties into Trump, and the QAnon group amongst his most fanatical followers. If you’re not aware, the group believes that a figure within the Trump inner circle called Q is leaking information about the president’s forthcoming, any-day-now, honest move against the deep state. Where does Q leak their information? 8Chan, of course…

Q was able to have others recognize them as Q because the board provided a unique tripcode that can’t be used anywhere else— and Q followers have been conditioned to believe that Q will only post on 8chan. Hence why Q doesn’t just return on something like Twitter or Telegram. The avatar can’t post anywhere else and confirm their identity.

For now, the future of both of the the most pervasive Trumpian conspiracy theories and 8Chan itself seems to hang by a Chinese thread:

On Oct. 17, Brennan discovered Watkins was attempting to use cloud computing infrastructure owned by Chinese e-commerce giants Alibaba and Tencent.

It’ll be interesting to see how that pans out.

chans8chanonline communitiestoxic communities

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Adam is a lecturer, trainer and writer. He's been a blogger for over 20 years, and a journalist for more than 30. He lectures on audience strategy and engagement at City, University of London.