Fredrick Brennan

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Fredrick Brennan
Fredrick Brennan selfie (cropped).jpg
Brennan in 2019, for identity verification on Hispachan
BornFebruary 1994 (age 26)
NationalityAmerican
Other names"Hotwheels"[1]
OccupationSoftware developer
Known forFounder of 8chan

Fredrick Brennan (born 1994) is an American software developer with brittle bone disease who founded the imageboard website 8chan. He founded 8chan as a free speech friendly 4chan alternative in 2013, defended its use by advocates of GamerGate in 2014, and cut ties with it in 2016 after having a dispute with NT Technology's owner Jim Watkins, current proprietor of 8chan.

Early life[edit]

Brennan was born in February 1994 in Albany, New York,[2][3] with osteogenesis imperfecta, commonly known as brittle bone disease, which stunted his growth and requires him to use a wheelchair. He estimates he had broken bones 120 times in his first 19 years, which has caused great pain.[4] His short arms prevent him from reaching the floor or cupboards; Brennan uses mechanical aids to reach into cabinets or use water faucets.[5]

Brennan comes from a multi-generational family with osteogenesis imperfecta.[6] His mother, who has the same condition, gave birth to him via caesarian section. His parents divorced when Brennan was 5 years old. He and his siblings were in his father's custody until Brennan was 14, when they were placed into the New York State foster care system.[7] Because of his hardships, Brennan wrote an article supporting the voluntary sterilization of people with similar severe inheritable genetic conditions. In the article, Brennan states that only The Daily Stormer, a white nationalist and Neo-Nazi website, would agree to publish it.[7][8] Brennan had developed a profound hatred of his parents for his life of constant pain. "I don't want to speak for everybody with a disability, but I hate being disabled and I always have," he told Nicky Woolf writing for the Tortoise website in 2019.[6] He later became a Christian and ceased to believe in encouraging sterilization. In 2019, he was considering having a child with his wife, but maintained he still believes in genetic testing for prospective parents.[6]

Early computer use and independence[edit]

His disability restricted his play activities during his childhood, so he became "hooked" on his first computer at the age of six, and wrote his first independent computer program at the age of 13.[5] Brennan was active in Internet culture from an early age, being a regular 4chan user since 2006.[6]

In 2012, he joined Wizardchan, an Internet community for male virgins.[9] He states he bought Wizardchan from the original administrator in March 2013 and owned it until September 2013, when he resigned after losing his virginity.[10][11]

In August 2013, Brennan moved from his mother's home in Atlantic City, New Jersey, to Brooklyn, New York, where he worked writing websites as head of programming for RazorClicks, which does small business web marketing.[4] The company paid the rent for his apartment, and he worked a second job, remotely, for a Canadian company for expenses.[5]

In January 2014, Brennan was robbed of almost $5,000 that he was saving up for a new wheelchair. When the suspect was arrested, Brennan went to the police station for a lineup, but when a bus did not come on the way back, he was left stranded in the snow, and had to be treated for hypothermia.[4] He received a personal apology from New York City Police Commissioner, William J. Bratton.[12] RazorClicks began a donation campaign to help gather the remaining funds for a new wheelchair; $15,000 USD was raised in two months.[13]

8chan[edit]

Brennan launched 8chan, also called "Infinitechan", in October 2013, after a month of raising pledges on Patreon. It was intended as a "free-speech-friendly 4chan alternative", where discussion boards would be managed by the creating users, not by site moderators.[2][14] It started with a small but loyal following.[15]

In September 2014, the website gained attention from the Gamergate controversy after 4chan banned its advocates, many of whom then organized at 8chan.[9][14] 8chan quickly became the second most popular English-language imageboard on the web.[15] Supporters gathered in person to hold an in-person birthday party for the site, starring Brennan.[1] Brennan himself became a prominent GamerGate voice, being interviewed about 8chan users' involvement in harassment of Brianna Wu on The David Pakman Show, and asked to debate about Gamergate on HuffPost Live and Al Jazeera America.[16][17][18]

In October 2014, Brennan formed a partnership with Japanese message board 2channel, and moved to the Philippines to work on 8chan full-time.[1][10]

Brennan was criticized for 8chan's pedophilia-related boards; Brennan has said he personally finds such content reprehensible, but stood by his refusal to remove content that did not violate United States law.[14] Due to the controversy surrounding the site, the crowd funding site Patreon removed 8chan's fundraising page in January 2015, and the site registrar put the original domain 8chan.co on hold, each citing the presence of child abuse content.[15][19][20] The registrar later relinquished control of the domain back to its owner, since the report proved to be false, and the domain now forwards to 8ch.net.[21]

Post 8chan[edit]

Brennan resigned from 8chan in April 2016, but remained working for Jim Watkins, the new owner, until December 2018.[22][23] Following the March 2019 Christchurch mosque shootings, Brennan told The Wall Street Journal that he no longer wants to be involved in the image-board world again, claiming that "a lot of these sites cause more misery than anything else".[24] Following the 2019 El Paso shooting, in an interview with The New York Times, Brennan called for the site to be taken offline, claiming that "It’s not doing the world any good. It’s a complete negative to everybody except the users that are there. And you know what? It’s a negative to them, too. They just don’t realize it".[25]

After Watkins refused to take down 8chan in 2019, Brennan directed a number of Twitter tweets at him and the messageboard, that called him senile and the site moderators incompetent. Watkins responded with a complaint of "cyber libel" in October 2019, in violation of the Philippine Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012, which makes it a criminal offense.[26] In February 2020, a Pasig City Regional Trial Court judge issued an arrest warrant for Brennan on this charge,[27] though the case was suspended due to an appeal to the Department of Justice.[28][29]

Post-8chan, Brennan developed several open source computer fonts, including typewriter style TT2020 and New York Times logo style Chomsky.[30][31]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Chen, Adrian (October 27, 2014). "Gamergate Supporters Party at Strip Club". New York. Retrieved November 10, 2014.
  2. ^ a b Machkovech, Sam (March 20, 2015). "'I don't even pretend I can stop it': 8chan's founder talks doxing, Internet freedom". Ars Technica. Retrieved September 27, 2015.
  3. ^ McLaughlin, Timothy (August 6, 2019). "The Weird, Dark History of 8Chan". Wired. Retrieved March 4, 2020.
  4. ^ a b c Wilson, Michael (January 17, 2014). "City Newcomer Is Let Down by a Stranger, Then the Police". The New York Times. Retrieved November 10, 2014.
  5. ^ a b c The America Tonight Digital Team (September 12, 2014). "A day in the life of a man with brittle bone disease". America Tonight. Al Jazeera America. Retrieved November 10, 2014. Video online at YouTube: "The Other America 'Fredrick Brennan' - YouTube". Al Jazeera America. September 20, 2014. Retrieved November 10, 2014.
  6. ^ a b c d Woolf, Nicky (June 29, 2019). "Destroyer of worlds". Tortoise. Retrieved August 5, 2019.
  7. ^ a b Brennan, Fredrick (December 30, 2014). "Hotwheels: Why I Support Eugenics". The Daily Stormer. Archived from the original on March 12, 2015. Retrieved 12 March 2015.
  8. ^ Herzog, Chrizella (March 8, 2015). "When the Internet Breeds Hate". The Diplomatic Courier. Retrieved December 2, 2019.
  9. ^ a b Audureau, William (October 15, 2014). "4chan, wizardchan, 8chan... s'y retrouver dans la jungle des forums anonymes les plus populaires du Web". Le Monde (in French). France.
  10. ^ a b Caldwell, Don (October 9, 2014). "Q&A with Fredrick Brennan of 8chan". Know Your Meme. Retrieved December 18, 2014.
  11. ^ Machkovech, Sam (March 17, 2015). "Full transcript: Ars interviews 8chan founder Fredrick Brennan". Ars Technica. Retrieved August 6, 2019.
  12. ^ "NY police apologize to victim with food, favors". PoliceOne. March 22, 2014. Retrieved November 10, 2014.
  13. ^ Wilson, Michael (March 21, 2014). "After Leaving Victim in the Cold, the Police Work to Make It Right". New York Times. Retrieved December 9, 2014.
  14. ^ a b c O'Neill, Patrick Howell (November 17, 2014). "8chan, the central hive of Gamergate, is also an active pedophile network". The Daily Dot. Retrieved December 3, 2014.
  15. ^ a b c Dewey, Caitlin (January 13, 2015). "This is what happens when you create an online community without any rules - The Washington Post". The Washington Post. Retrieved January 17, 2015.
  16. ^ "What Is #Gamergate? 8chan Administrator And Female Gamer Join HuffPost Live". HuffPost Live. The Huffington Post. October 15, 2014. Retrieved November 10, 2014.
  17. ^ Pakman, David (November 5, 2014). "#GamerGate: 8Chan Admin 'Hotwheels' Denounces Brianna Wu Doxxing & Harassment". The David Pakman Show. Retrieved December 3, 2014.
  18. ^ The America Tonight Digital Team (December 10, 2014). "GamerGate debate: Video games, free speech and misogyny". Al Jazeera America. Retrieved December 14, 2014.
  19. ^ Machkovech, Sam (January 8, 2015). "8chan, related sites go down in Lizard Squad-powered DDoS". Ars Technica. Retrieved January 17, 2015.
  20. ^ Machkovech, Sam (January 12, 2015). "8chan domain seized over allegations of child abuse content". Ars Technica. Retrieved January 17, 2015.
  21. ^ 8chan (8ch.net) [@infinitechan] (January 13, 2015). "Our .co domain was released and transferred and is back under 8chan control. It will remain as a redirect. Thread: t.co/0nuVdMe7fL" (Tweet). Archived from the original on November 4, 2017. Retrieved December 2, 2019 – via Twitter.
  22. ^ Begley, Patrick (March 22, 2019). "Racist meme subcultures under fresh scrutiny after the Christchurch terror attack". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved March 23, 2019.
  23. ^ Reeve, Elle (September 5, 2019). "How 8chan Was Born — and Became the Worst Place on the Internet". Vice News. Retrieved December 2, 2019.
  24. ^ McMillan, Robert (March 20, 2019). "After New Zealand Shooting, Founder of 8chan Expresses Regrets". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved May 17, 2019. (Subscription required.)
  25. ^ Roose, Kevin (August 4, 2019). "8chan Is a Megaphone for Gunmen. 'Shut the Site Down,' Says Its Creator". The New York Times. Retrieved August 5, 2019.
  26. ^ Gregorio, Xave (November 11, 2019). "Owner of site linked to US mass shooting sues founder for cyber libel in PH". CNN Philippines. Retrieved February 27, 2020.
  27. ^ Victor, Daniel (February 27, 2020). "Founder of 8chan Faces Arrest on 'Cyberlibel' Charge". The New York Times. Retrieved February 27, 2020.
  28. ^ "Pasig City court suspends proceedings on cyber libel charge vs founder of site linked to mass shooting". CNN Philippines. March 6, 2020. Retrieved May 12, 2020.
  29. ^ Gilbert, David (February 27, 2020). "The Philippines Wants to Arrest 8chan Founder Fredrick Brennan: 'It's Basically a Death Sentence'". Vice. Retrieved May 12, 2020.
  30. ^ Beschizza, Rob (January 3, 2020). "TT2020: an old-timey typewriter typeface that doesn't look fake". Boing Boing. Retrieved May 27, 2020.
  31. ^ Beschizza, Rob (December 19, 2019). "Chomsky: a blackletter typeface inspired by The New York Times' nameplate". Boing Boing. Retrieved May 27, 2020.