Type of site
|Available in||English (users can create language specific boards)|
N.T. Technology (2channel)
|Created by||Fredrick Brennan|
|Alexa rank|| 4,200 (Global, March 2019)|
1,208 (United States, Match 2019)
|Launched||October 22, 2013|
8chan, also called Infinitechan or Infinitychan (sometimes stylized as ∞chan), is an American imageboard website composed of user-created boards. Each board is moderated by its owner, with minimal interaction from other site administration. To own a board one must either create it or claim it if the board has had inactivity for over a week.
Several of the site's boards have played an active role in the Gamergate controversy, encouraging Gamergate affiliates to frequent 8chan after the topic was banned on the unaffiliated imageboard 4chan. The site has been linked to Internet subcultures and activism.
8chan was created in October 2013 by computer programmer Fredrick Brennan, also known by the nickname "Hotwheels". Brennan created the website after he observed what he perceived to be rapidly escalating surveillance and a loss of free speech on the Internet. Brennan, who considers the imageboard 4chan to have grown into authoritarianism, describes 8chan as a "free-speech-friendly" alternative, and originally conceptualized the site while experiencing a psychedelic mushrooms trip.
No experience or programming knowledge is necessary for users to create their own boards. Since as early as March 2014, its FAQ has stated only one rule that is to be globally enforced: "Do not post, request, or link to any content illegal in the United States of America. Do not create boards with the sole purpose of posting or spreading such content." Brennan has claimed that, while he finds some of the content posted by users to be "reprehensible," he feels personally obligated to uphold the site's integrity by tolerating discussion he does not necessarily support regardless of his moral stance.
In January 2015, the site changed its domain 8chan.co to 8ch.net after multiple people filed reports complaining to 8chan's registrar that the message board hosted child pornography. Despite subsequently regaining the domain, the site remained at 8ch.net, with the old domain redirecting to it.
Numerous bugs in the Infinity software led to the funding and development of a successor platform dubbed "Infinity Next". After a several-month-long testing period, a migration to the new software was attempted in December 2015, but failed.[clarification needed] In January 2016, development was halted, and the main developer, Joshua Moon, was fired by Brennan. Brennan himself would officially resign in July 2016, turning the site over to its owner, Jim Watkins and his son, Ron. He cited the failure of the "Infinity Next" project and disillusionment with what 8chan had become as reasons.
On February 25, 2019, THQ Nordic hosted an AMA (ask me anything) thread on the video games board of the website, /v/. One developer noted that the company had pitched an idea for a Splatoon-like game featured in the De Blob universe with speculation for a future release.
The Washington Post described it as "the more-lawless, more-libertarian, more 'free' follow-up to 4chan." Boards have been created to discuss topics such as child rape. While the sharing of illegal content is against site rules, The Daily Dot wrote that boards do exist to share sexualized images of minors in provocative poses, and that some users of those boards do post links to explicit child pornography hosted elsewhere. When asked whether such boards were an inevitable result of free speech, Brennan responded, "Unfortunately, yes. I don’t support the content on the boards you mentioned, but it is simply the cost of free speech and being the only active site to not impose more 'laws' than those that were passed in Washington, D.C."
On September 18, 2014, the website gained prominence in the Gamergate controversy after 4chan banned discussion of Gamergate, whereupon 8chan became one of several hubs of Gamergate activity. "/gg/", 8chan's initial Gamergate-oriented board, also gained attention after being compromised by members of the internet troll group Gay Nigger Association of America, forcing Gamergate activists to migrate to "/gamergate/". This replacement quickly became the site's second most populous board.
In January 2015 the site was used as a base for swatting exploits in Portland, Seattle, and Burnaby, British Columbia, most of them tied to the victims' criticism of Gamergate and 8chan's association with it; the attacks were coordinated on a board on the website called "/baphomet/". One of the victims of a swatting attack said that she was singled out because she had followed someone on Twitter. On February 9, 2015, contents on the "/baphomet/" subboard were wiped after personal information of Katherine Forrest, the presiding judge in the Silk Road case, had been posted there.
Donald Trump presidential campaign
In July 2016, US presidential candidate Donald Trump tweeted an image of Hillary Clinton with a background of money and a six pointed star, seen by some as resembling the Star of David, containing the message "Most corrupt candidate ever". The image had been posted to 8chan's /pol/ board as early as June 22, over a week before Trump's team tweeted it. CBC News called 8chan an alt-right forum.
During 2018, a user that referred to himself as "Q" gained attention and promoted theories about the deep state, eventually sparking a worldwide group of followers to the movement. Sean Hannity has notably retweeted QAnon hashtags on his Twitter feed. The original group of Q followers on Reddit were banned on March 14, 2018, over promoting the conspiracy theory. They quickly regrouped into a new subreddit, which featured posts from Q and other anonymous posters on 8chan in a more reader-friendly format. The subreddit was banned for a second time on September 12, 2018. With a flood of new users on the board, Q asked Ron to upgrade the website's servers in order to accommodate all of the board's website traffic on September 19, 2018. On September 20th, 2018, Ron talked about the server upgrade in a Tweet. The movement has been linked with the "Pizzagate" conspiracy theory. The Q movement has also been linked to the hashtags #TheGreatAwakening and #WWG1WGA, which stands for "where we go one, we go all"; it's also sometimes linked with the phrase "Follow the White Rabbit".
Louisiana Police's Antifa List
In September 2018, the Louisiana State Police were scrutinized for using lists of personal information about supposed Antifa members which were posted on 8chan's politics board. The file "antifa.docx" was found in police databases and led directly to the opening of criminal investigations.
Christchurch mass shooting
Prior to the 15 March 2019 Christchurch mosque shootings, its alleged perpetrator posted his manifesto detailing his reasons for the attack. The alleged killer shared links to the live stream video only minutes before the attack on 8chan and on Facebook. Some members of 8chan re-shared it and applauded the violent murders.
On March 20, 2019 Australian telecom company Telstra denied millions of Australians access to the websites 4chan, 8chan, Zero Hedge, and Liveleak as a reaction to the Christchurch mosque shootings.
On March 22, the executive director of the the Anti-Defamation League partner Network Contagion Research Institute accused the platform of organizing and propagating terror, leading the Washington Post to call it a terrorist recruiting site.
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