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Type of site
4chan imageboard
Available inEnglish
OwnerHiroyuki Nishimura
URL4chan.org/pol Edit this at Wikidata
LaunchedNovember 10, 2011; 9 years ago (2011-11-10)
Current statusOnline

/pol/, short for "politically incorrect", is a political discussion board on 4chan.[1][2][3] The board has been noted for its racist, white supremacist, antisemitic, misogynistic, and transphobic content.[6]

The board serves partly as a "containment" area on 4chan: a place to divert trolls and extremists.[7][8] /pol/ has been successful in spreading fake news into the mainstream media.[9][10] A number of /pol/ boards exist or have existed on other imageboards than 4chan, such as on 8chan.[2]


Screengrab of the front (catalogue) page of /pol/ in December 2019, with each discussion thread indicated by an image

Much of the content on /pol/ relies heavily on memes to further spread ideas.[11] One of the most popular memes found on the board during the period surrounding the 2016 US presidential election was that of Pepe the Frog, which has been deemed a white supremacist symbol by some media outlets due to it being shown in uniforms, places, and people associated with Nazism, the Ku Klux Klan, and antisemitism.[12][13][14] Many have questioned the sincerity of users on /pol/ as possible trolls.[15][16]

While 4chan's /pol/ board is the most popular board under the "/pol/" name, versions on other websites have existed. These include Kohlchan, 8chan (later 8kun), 16chan, Shitchan, and Endchan, with some less popular "/pol/" themed boards accessible through the Tor network on sites such as 9chan and Neinchan.[2]


Prior to the creation of /pol/, there were two boards intended for discussing news that had been added and removed from the site. The first of these was /n/, which was added on 8 April 2006. Thus, it replaced /n/'s previous topic of animals and nature. (The topic of animals and nature itself was moved to the /an/ board). /n/'s topic was changed to transportation on 19 February 2008, without moving the news topic to another board, effectively removing it.[17]

Another news board, /new/, was later added on 25 January 2010. It was deleted a year later on 17 January 2011 because, according to 4chan's creator and ex-administrator Christopher Poole, it had "devolved into /stormfront/".[17][18][19] This was comparing /new/ to Stormfront, which is the oldest and largest Holocaust-denialist white supremacist site.[20] According to Christine Lagorio-Chafkin, /pol/ was created by "4chan's founder [...] to siphon off and contain the overtly xenophobic and racist comments and memes from other wings of 4chan."[21] This has led to /pol/ acquiring the nickname of a "containment board", because its purpose is to keep far-right and generally political content off of 4chan's other boards.[7][8]

Notable events[edit]

Screenshots of Trayvon Martin's hacked social media accounts were initially posted to /pol/ in 2015.[22][23]

After the 2015 Umpqua Community College shooting, /pol/ began attempting to circulate on social media claims that comedian Sam Hyde was the perpetrator of a mass shooting event or terrorist attack. They repeated this after several other mass shootings, in attempts to troll mainstream news outlets into reporting Hyde as the attacker.[9] According to BBC News, CNN mistakenly included Hyde's image on their coverage of the Umpqua shooting.[24] After the 2017 Las Vegas shooting, a Google search for a different man's name returned a /pol/ thread in the "top stories" section falsely identifying him as the shooter. A spokesperson for Google said that the thread had appeared because search queries and news about the man were rare, allowing for the thread to appear in results, but that the thread did not appear in broader searches about the Las Vegas shooting.[10]

Users of /pol/ engaged in coordinated attacks on LaBeouf, Rönkkö & Turner's HEWILLNOTDIVIDE.US, a 2017 performance art project made to protest Donald Trump's presidency.[25] Users also organised the It's OK to be white poster campaign the same year.[26]

In 2017, users of /pol/ co-ordinated a campaign to convince mainstream news organisations that the OK gesture was a white power symbol, later the OK gesture became used unironically by white supremacists.[27]

In 2019, 4chan and 8chan were temporarily blocked by Australian internet service providers for containing videos of the Christchurch mosque shootings.[28] Before the shootings, the shooter posted on 8chan's /pol/ board.[29][2]

In late February and early March 2021, users on /pol/ boosted a social media trend called "Super Straight", which they claimed was a new sexuality describing heterosexuals who would never have a relationship or sex with transgender people. The trend began with later-deleted TikTok video by a user who said he had created the term because he was tired of being called transphobic.[30] The Daily Dot described the phenomenon as a "reframing [of] their harassment of transgender people".[31] The trend spread to other platforms as well, including Twitter and TikTok, and 4chan users were eager to "red pill" those in the Generation Z age group, create division among LGBTQ communities, and use the language of LGBTQ rights to troll leftists. The harassment campaign has used Nazi symbols in their symbolism, including the logo of Hitler's Schutzstaffel, which also used the acronym "SS". Colours associated with "Super Straight" are black and orange.[32][31]

Reception and influence[edit]

/pol/ has been characterised as predominantly racist and sexist, with many of its posts taking explicitly alt-right and neo-Nazi points of view. In particular, the board is infamous for the prevalence of antisemitic threads and memes.[33][5][34][35][36][4] The Southern Poverty Law Center regards /pol/'s rhetorical style as widely emulated by white supremacist websites such as The Daily Stormer; the Stormer's editor, Andrew Anglin, concurred.[5] Many /pol/ users favoured Donald Trump during his 2016 United States presidential campaign.[4] Upon his election, a /pol/ moderator embedded a pro-Trump video at the top of all of the board's pages.[37][38][39][40]

As a potential honeypot[edit]

Many have speculated whether the website is kept online as a honeypot for far-right groups, or to monitor extremists.[41][42] In 2015, an Australian Department of Defence graduate used /pol/ to share classified information, only to be caught by another former Department of Defence worker browsing the site.[43] Within /pol/, suspected agents of various intelligence communities are called "Glowniggers",[44] a reference to the computer programmer Terry A. Davis who said "The CIA Niggers glow in the dark, you can see them if you're driving, you just run them over, that's what you do."[41][45] Because of this, suspicious posts are deemed to be "glowing" and "glowposting" is a common phrase on the forum.[41][46]

Alleged moderator racism[edit]

In 2020, several past and current moderators spoke to Vice Media's Motherboard about what they perceived as racist intent behind /pol/ and 4chan as a whole. They described how the manager of 4chan's volunteer "janitors", a moderator known as RapeApe, wishes to generate right-wing discussion on /pol/ and has dissuaded janitors from banning users for racism. Additionally, they noted how janitors were often fired whenever they held left-wing opinions. Hiroyuki Nishimura was described as letting RapeApe have full control of the site. Neither Nishimura nor RapeApe responded to Vice Media's requests for comment, but RapeApe did, however, provide a video of two naked men dancing.[47]


According to a 2017 longitudinal study, using a dataset of over 8 million posts, /pol/ is a diverse ecosystem with users well-distributed around the world. The percentage of posts containing hate speech ranges from 4.15% (e.g., in Indonesia, Arab countries) to 30% (e.g., China, Bahamas, Cyprus). Elevated use of hate speech is seen in Western European countries (e.g., Italy, Spain, Greece, and France).[4] A separate 2017 quantitative analysis found that /pol/ was an important influencer of news content on Twitter, with the board contributing 3% of mainstream news links and 1.96% of alternative news links on Twitter (as a fraction of all links co-appearing on Twitter, Reddit, and 4chan). The researchers concluded that "'fringe' communities often succeed in spreading alternative news to mainstream social networks."[48]

According to a 2020 report by the British charity Community Security Trust, many threads contain "explicit calls for Jews to be killed".[49]

A study with data collected from April 2020 to June 2020 and published in Perspectives on Terrorism in February 2021 analyzed the popularity and content present on different /pol/ boards. To analyze board content, they examined which word sets were most common per board. They found that schisms were characteristic of this subculture, with splinter communities being less popular and more extreme on average. For example, discussion on 8kun's /pol/ board contained more racial content than did 4chan's much more popular /pol/ board, which hosted racist content as well. Neinchan, hosted on the Tor network, was indicated as having among the most extreme /pol/ boards, albeit with low traffic. The researchers indicated that academic work examining this subculture of far-right imageboards was lacking.[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Merrin, William (2019). "President Troll: Trump, 4Chan and Memetic Warfare". In Happer, Catherine; Hoskins, Andrew; Merrin, William (eds.). Trump's Media War. Cham, Switzerland: Palgrave Macmillan. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-94069-4_13. ISBN 978-3-319-94069-4.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Baele, Stephane J.; Brace, Lewys; Coan, Travis G. (2021). "Variations on a Theme? Comparing 4chan, 8kun, and Other chans' Far-Right '/pol' Boards". Perspectives on Terrorism. 15 (1): 65–80. ISSN 2334-3745. JSTOR 26984798.
  3. ^ a b c Elley, Ben (March 2021). ""The rebirth of the West begins with you!"—Self-improvement as radicalisation on 4chan". Humanities and Social Sciences Communications. Springer Nature. 8 (1): 67. doi:10.1057/s41599-021-00732-x. ISSN 2662-9992.
  4. ^ a b c d Hine, Gabriel Emile; Onaolapo, Jeremiah; De Cristofaro, Emiliano; Kourtellis, Nicolas; Leontiadis, Ilias; Samaras, Riginos; Stringhini, Gianluca; Blackburn, Jeremy (May 2017). Kek, Cucks, and God Emperor Trump: A Measurement Study of 4chan's Politically Incorrect Forum and Its Effects on the Web. International Conference on Web and Social Media. Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence.
  5. ^ a b c d e Siegel, Jacob (29 June 2015). "Dylann Roof, 4chan, and the New Online Racism". The Daily Beast. Retrieved 17 July 2015.
  6. ^ The board has been noted for content that is:
  7. ^ a b ""Dennis Erasmus" — Containment Breach: 4chan's /pol/ and the Failed Logic of "Safe Spaces" for Far-Right Ideology". 1 July 2019.
  8. ^ a b "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 7 April 2019. Retrieved 9 December 2019.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  9. ^ a b Daro, Ishmael N. (3 June 2016). "Don't Believe Any Breaking News That Names This Comedian As A Mass Shooter". BuzzFeed. Retrieved 20 August 2016.
  10. ^ a b Shieber, Jonathan (2 October 2017). "How reports from 4chan on the Las Vegas shooting showed up on Google Top Stories". TechCrunch. Retrieved 6 November 2017.
  11. ^ Hathaway, Jay (7 June 2017). "What the Harvard teens don't get about memes". The Daily Dot. Retrieved 12 April 2018.
  12. ^ "Pepe the Frog". Anti-Defamation League. Retrieved 12 April 2018.
  13. ^ Roy, Jessica (11 October 2016). "How 'Pepe the Frog' went from harmless to hate symbol". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 12 April 2018.
  14. ^ Ellyatt, Holly (29 September 2016). "Who is Pepe the Frog and why has he become a hate symbol?". CNBC. Retrieved 12 April 2018.
  15. ^ Tait, Amelia (16 February 2017). "First they came for Pepe: How "ironic" Nazism is taking over the internet". The New Statesman. Retrieved 16 August 2019.
  16. ^ Wilson, Jason (23 May 2017). "Hiding in plain sight: how the 'alt-right' is weaponizing irony to spread fascism". The Guardian. Retrieved 12 April 2018.
  17. ^ a b "4chan/History". Bibliotheca Anonoma. Retrieved 28 January 2021.
  18. ^ Beran, Dale (30 July 2019). It Came from Something Awful: How a Toxic Troll Army Accidentally Memed Donald Trump into Office. St. Martin's Publishing Group. ISBN 9781250219473
  19. ^ moot (19 January 2011). "Why were /r9k/ and /new/ removed?". 4chan. Retrieved 16 August 2019 – via WebCite.
  20. ^ "Stormfront". Hate on Display Hate Symbols Database. Retrieved 18 July 2020.
  21. ^ Lagorio-Chafkin, Christine (2018). "r/The_Donald". We Are the Nerds: The Birth and Tumultuous Life of Reddit, the Internet's Culture Laboratory. Hachette Books. p. 323. ISBN 978-0-316-43536-9.
  22. ^ Bankoff, Caroline (29 March 2012). "White Supremacist Claims to Have Hacked Trayvon Martin's Email, Social Media Accounts". The New Yorker. Retrieved 17 July 2015.
  23. ^ Mackey, Robert (29 March 2012). "Bloggers Cherry-Pick From Social Media to Cast Trayvon Martin as a Menace". The New York Times. Retrieved 17 July 2015.
  24. ^ Bell, Chris (2 October 2017). "Las Vegas: The fake photos shared after tragedies". BBC News. Retrieved 16 August 2019.
  25. ^ Selk, Avi (2 April 2017). "A live stream of Shia LaBeouf chanting was disrupted by Nazi-themed dancing. Then things got weird". The Washington Post. Retrieved 10 November 2017.
  26. ^ Ross, Janell (3 November 2017). "'It's okay to be white' signs and stickers appear on campuses and streets across the country". The Washington Post. Retrieved 5 November 2017.
  27. ^ Brodeur, Michael Andor (20 September 2018). "That hand symbol you're seeing everywhere? Not OK". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 30 September 2018.
  28. ^ "Government Orders 8 Sites Blocked For Hosting Christchurch Footage". Kotaku Australia. 9 September 2019. Retrieved 11 July 2020.
  29. ^ "Ignore The Poway Synagogue Shooter's Manifesto: Pay Attention To 8chan's /pol/ Board". Bellingcat. 28 April 2019. Retrieved 10 April 2021.
  30. ^ Asarch, Steven (8 March 2021). "A social-media trend has people identifying as 'super straight.' The transphobic campaign was meant to divide LGBTQ people". Insider. Retrieved 10 March 2021.
  31. ^ a b Ball, Siobhan (9 March 2021). "Transphobic trolls are trying to pass off 'super straight' as a new sexual identity". The Daily Dot. Retrieved 10 March 2021.
  32. ^ Milton, Josh (8 March 2021). "Super Straight: Transphobic Trend has links to the far-right". PinkNews. Retrieved 10 March 2021.
  33. ^ Dewey, Caitlin (25 September 2014). "Absolutely everything you need to know to understand 4chan, the Internet's own bogeyman". The Washington Post. Retrieved 17 July 2015.
  34. ^ Alonso, Fernando III (13 June 2014). "#EndFathersDay is the work of 4chan, not feminists". The Daily Dot. Retrieved 17 July 2015.
  35. ^ Schwartz, Or (7 December 2014). "4chan Trolls Take Over Electronic Billboard, Racism Ensues". Vocativ. Retrieved 17 July 2015.
  36. ^ "Alt-Right". Southern Poverty Law Center. Retrieved 30 October 2017.
  37. ^ Lee, Oliver (13 March 2016). "Understanding Trump's Troll Army". Motherboard. Vice Media. Retrieved 14 July 2017.
  38. ^ Ohlheiser, Abby (9 November 2016). "'We actually elected a meme as president': How 4chan celebrated Trump's victory". The Washington Post. Retrieved 14 July 2017.
  39. ^ Steinblatt, Jacob (13 October 2015). "Donald Trump Embraces His 4Chan Fans". Vocativ. Retrieved 14 July 2017.
  40. ^ Schreckinger, Ben (March–April 2017). "World War Meme". Politico. Retrieved 14 July 2017.
  41. ^ a b c Khazan, Olga (25 January 2021). "The Far Right's fear of 'Glowies'". The Atlantic. Atlantic Media Company. Retrieved 21 March 2021.
  42. ^ Potapova, Rodmonga (1 October 2015). Determination of the Internet Anonymity Influence on the Level of Aggression and Usage of Obscene Lexis (PhD). Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration. arXiv:1510.00240. Retrieved 21 March 2021.
  43. ^ Cushing, Tim (7 August 2015). "Man Leaks Sensitive Documents To 4chan; Receives Insults, Arrest For His Troubles". Techdirt. Retrieved 11 July 2020.
  44. ^ "Richmond Gun Rally: Is A Virginia Cop Giving 4Chan's /pol Board Inside Info?". Bellingcat. 19 January 2020. Retrieved 11 July 2020.
  45. ^ "They glow in the dark". YouTube. 13 March 2017. Retrieved 11 July 2020.
  46. ^ Salo, Jackie; Moore, Tina (13 August 2019). "Why was Jeffrey Epstein's death on 4chan before it became public?". New York Post. Retrieved 5 October 2020.
  47. ^ Arthur, Rob (2 November 2020). "The Man Who Helped Turn 4chan Into the Internet's Racist Engine". Vice Media. Archived from the original on 18 November 2020. Retrieved 28 November 2020.
  48. ^ Zannettou, Savvas; Caulfield, Tristan; De Cristofaro, Emiliano; Kourtelris, Nicolas; Leontiadis, Ilias; Sirivianos, Michael; Stringhini, Gianluca; Blackburn, Jeremy (2017). "The Web Centipede: Understanding How Web Communities Influence Each Other Through the Lens of Mainstream and Alternative News Sources" (PDF). Proceedings of the 2017 Internet Measurement Conference. ACM. pp. 405–417. ISBN 978-1-4503-5118-8.
  49. ^ Zonshine, Idan. "New UK report exposes massive online network of far-right antisemitism". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 25 August 2020.