“It became a sump for the most racist and misogynist of users...”
July 5, 2019 3:46 PM   Subscribe

Destroyer of worlds [Tortoise Media] How a childhood of anger led the founder of 8chan to create one of the darkest corners of the internet.
“The anger and hate that spews from 8chan is not a conscious extension of the anger and hate of its creator – though he had plenty – but an inevitable byproduct of the dark structure he built. The story of 8chan’s founder, Fredrick Brennan, is a perfect expression of this: born with a profound disability and shuttled in and out of foster care, his creation of the site was born not out of cold calculation or political ambition, but from a need to find community in loneliness. 8chan is a monster, but its creator had no idea what it would become. He was just a kid.”

• The Cops Want to Know What’s Happening on 8chan [Mother Jones]
“American law enforcement agencies apparently want to know more about what’s happening on 8chan. According to the site’s March 2o19 “Transparency Report,” released Friday, the image board had “received and complied with” 12 requests from the U.S. government and or U.S law enforcement agencies over the course of the month. The site also received two requests from foreign authorities, which it says it ignored. The numbers are unusually high compared to the site’s past monthly reports, and they come after 8chan played host to a pre-shooting announcement from the man who New Zealand authorities have said killed 50 Muslim worshipers in Christchurch in March.”
• 8chan Is a Mysterious Place to U.S. Anti-Terrorism Officials [Vice News]
“The purpose of the hearing, convened by the House Committee on Homeland Security, was to assess the nature of the threat posed by domestic terrorism and determine whether current counterterrorism infrastructure was adequate to combat it. “Do you have any recommendations about what can be done to address the violent hate speech and incitement of violence found on fringe sites like 8chan and Gab,” asked Rep. Mike Rogers, the ranking Republican member of the committee from Alabama, early on in the hearing. His question was met with silence. “Y’all don’t have any suggestions for us?” Rogers said. “That’s scary.” [...] According to 8chan’s monthly “Transparency Report”, the site fielded and complied with three requests from U.S. government or law enforcement agencies, in April down from 12 requests the previous month. It’s difficult to know whether government agencies were contacting 8chan due to possible threats or other concerns outside of counterterrorism, like cybercrime and copyright infringement. However, the spike in requests in March is notable given that it coincided with the New Zealand shooting, and was up from only two requests in February.”
• After California Synagogue Shooting, 8Chan Is Back In the Spotlight [Rolling Stone]
“8chan’s longstanding reputation as a respite for internet trolls is deeply woven into its origins: the website was founded after the message board 4/chan (itself known as a hotbed for anti-Semitic, racist, and misogynistic rhetoric) started cracking down on Gamergaters and child porn distributors. While not every poster or community on 8chan is explicitly violent or anti-Semitic or racist, over the past few years the /pol/ (Politically Incorrect) board, on which the Christchurch and Poway synagogue shooters both posted their manifestos, has emerged as a hotbed of white supremacist thought and, increasingly, calls to violent action. “When something horrifying happens online that leads people to say, ‘the internet is a terrible place,” they are often talking about something that was planned on 8chan,” Splinter News wrote of the website back in 2016.”
• How to Fight 8chan Medievalism—and Why We Must [Pacific Standard]
“The discipline of medieval history, like all history, has always been political. For many scholars and fans of medievalism in fantasy or other genres (Renaissance festivals, architecture, European martial arts), this simple truth remains uncomfortable. As the New York Times recently reported, a large faction of academics—most of them white, in my experience—dismiss the notion that white supremacists' use of the Middle Ages should influence how we teach and study the past. Such skeptics argue that these medievally minded murderers are a rarity—and moreover that these young men don't know much about history. The bigots place medieval symbols next to Pepe the Frog memes or racist YouTube videos, thus (according to the skeptical faction) pulling the medieval content outside of time, creating an ahistorical iconography that historians need not bother about too much, beyond periodic fact-checking.”
• Why Blocking Hate Sites Like 8chan May Only Make Them Stronger [Time]
“Blocking access to these platforms would validate users’ long-running narrative that the mainstream simply can’t deal with their edginess. For instance, 8chan has been blamed at various times for the spread of extremist bloodshed, campaigns of harassment and generally being a hotbed of hate. The site hosts content that is illegal in several countries, and many of its users encouraged and delighted in the acts of anti-Semitic or Islamophobic violence–amid chats on gaming, fitness and anime. 8chan’s users are well aware of its infamy and association with all the Establishment finds intolerable, from offensive jokes to extremist politics. Much of the content is designed to shock–and laugh at who’s offended. The Christchurch and Poway shooters’ manifestos, posted to the site before the killings started, are strewn with in-jokes, trolling and red herrings–with the twin aims of winking to the community and misleading unwitting, horrified journalists. It is deliberate provocation: search interest in 8chan spiked after the Christchurch massacre, no doubt because of the many articles published about it afterward.”
posted by Fizz (52 comments total) 48 users marked this as a favorite
 
Wow. That’s a difficult read. I applaud the editorial decision to have pictures of the mourners his site created. And I’m sorry about his early life, and his really tragic disease, but his redemption arc comes in a pool of blood and misery, and having been a target of things he enabled, I can’t find it in myself to celebrate his new found humanity.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 5:55 PM on July 5, 2019 [48 favorites]


Unfortunately I think there is some truth to Brennan's statement , “If 4chan ceased existing, they would go to another site. If 8chan ceased existing they would go to another site. And the same patterns would repeat over and over.”

That doesn't mean we should go easy on these assholes. I'm okay with making it more difficult for them to spread hate. The increase of hate crimes since Trump shows that hate leads to more hate. Online communities like 8chan are places where hate is incubated and grows. Weekend Nazis don't go there just to release their frustrations. It's where the amateur Nazis become professional and begin to act out their violent fantasies in real life.
posted by mundo at 7:04 PM on July 5, 2019 [10 favorites]


Sites like 4chan and 8chan don't need to be blocked so much as they need to be neutered. Randomly filter their content (articles with 60% of the content missing, for example). Make it harder to use, and harder to join. Make the haters *work* for their hate, because if hate is easy, more people will do it.
posted by Jefffurry at 7:20 PM on July 5, 2019 [16 favorites]


“At best, he was wilfully blind to Gamergate’s politics; there is moral culpability in inviting them to the site. But the traffic they represented was, to Brennan, unarguable. 8chan went from 100 posts a day to more than 10,000 every hour. It was “insane”, Brennan says. He was euphoric. If this keeps up, he thought, I am totally going to unseat moot.”

Extremely cool that the articles main photo and introduction spent so much time talking about his disability when, in actuality, it was his identity as a business owner that made the site so susceptible to serving fascism. Just like YouTube.
posted by Space Coyote at 7:29 PM on July 5, 2019 [47 favorites]


Randomly filter their content (articles with 60% of the content missing, for example). Make it harder to use, and harder to join. Make the haters *work* for their hate, because if hate is easy, more people will do it.

How? They run their own servers. I don't understand where you'd implement that kind of filtering.

It might be a good idea for someone who opposes 8chan and friends to run such a site, and quietly censor or un-promote the worst sort of content. Or even just shut it down in the event of an acute crisis, like plans to mass murder. Short of that, I'm not sure how such sites can be neutered.
posted by andrewpcone at 7:31 PM on July 5, 2019 [3 favorites]


Not shocked that he's now a Christian, and is all sorry. Just another grift to start, if you ask me.
posted by 922257033c4a0f3cecdbd819a46d626999d1af4a at 7:57 PM on July 5, 2019 [67 favorites]


The banality of evil. We want to pretend it's a devil or a malevolent force and it's really just our human nature telling us our pain gives us the right to hurt others.
posted by lon_star at 8:00 PM on July 5, 2019 [54 favorites]


Sites like 4chan and 8chan don't need to be blocked so much as they need to be neutered. Randomly filter their content (articles with 60% of the content missing, for example). Make it harder to use, and harder to join. Make the haters *work* for their hate, because if hate is easy, more people will do it.


Or make it easy, and silently archive every fucking thing.
posted by ocschwar at 8:02 PM on July 5, 2019 [7 favorites]


> It might be a good idea for someone who opposes 8chan and friends to run such a site, and quietly censor or un-promote the worst sort of content.

That would be a ton of exhausting work and would be difficult to keep secret.

The only organizations I could see pulling this off would be spy agencies, and that also sounds terrible.
posted by smelendez at 8:13 PM on July 5, 2019 [1 favorite]


Working my way through the Mueller Report... there isn't any material in it at all (yet?) about the Russians using 8chan or even monitoring 8chan for ideas or inspiration, but certainly the kinds of campaigns they were running could have found fodder there or planted seeds there.
posted by hippybear at 8:18 PM on July 5, 2019 [1 favorite]


“If 4chan ceased existing, they would go to another site. If 8chan ceased existing they would go to another site. And the same patterns would repeat over and over.”

I think this is probably bullshit. Ideas, cultures and movements wither without a forum, this is easy to observe and happens all the time.

Brennan saying that they'd just find another space is just a way for him to absolve himself of guilt.

Free speech, certainly when taken this far, is a corrosive notion, on a par with "sticks and stones ... words will never hurt me". Speech is an act, with consequence, and I'd love the law to catch up to "just joking" trolls.
posted by deadwax at 8:20 PM on July 5, 2019 [30 favorites]


Working my way through the Mueller Report... there isn't any material in it at all (yet?) about the Russians using 8chan or even monitoring 8chan for ideas or inspiration, but certainly the kinds of campaigns they were running could have found fodder there or planted seeds there.

Of course there isn't. That's entirely ludicrous.

There's quite a bit hitting the news recently, though, about the FBI posting on 8chan anonymously to try to spread RussiaGate fearmongering exactly like this, and stoke up conspiracy theories about Russia running campaigns of manipulation.
posted by kafziel at 8:35 PM on July 5, 2019 [12 favorites]


Read all this and had never actually looked at one of these sites. So, I opened up an incognito window and searched "8chan." No direct link to the site on the top results or the next couple of screens. Tried duckduckgo and there was the link. Now, I need eyewash. But then I wondered. Does Google have a policy against the site?

This 2015 Observer story says Goog blocked the site. But this ars technica article it was based on is out of date. I tried the described site: search and it works now. So, Google decided to block it (apparently for child abuse or porn) but then decided to unblock it. They have left a kind of "soft block" for the naive searcher who just types 8chan. This seems to serve their interest in not being perceived as evil, but accomplishes absolutely nothing in the face of your average 12 year old boy looking for memes and white supremacy lulz.

tl;dr wtf Google?
posted by Gotanda at 8:37 PM on July 5, 2019 [6 favorites]


Unfortunately I think there is some truth to Brennan's statement , “If 4chan ceased existing, they would go to another site. If 8chan ceased existing they would go to another site. And the same patterns would repeat over and over.”

This argument has always struck me as an excuse for inaction, and a self-serving excuse coming from Brennan. Maybe some of the users migrate over to 16chan or whatever, and maybe some don't. Maybe some go find another site where they engage differently. Maybe some of them go outside.

The "if you strike me down, I shall become me powerful (or at least persist)" argument assumes a steady state of reactionary shitbags, a constant unchanging market. In reality though, there are people who consistently say how they hung out on these boards for a while, then went and found something else. Shutting down one site does not mean every single user is going to search out the new site, sign back up, and start browsing/creating content all over again.

Using Reddit as example, that site plays inconsistent whackamole with its worst parts, but it does seem to have led to a fracturing of the white supremacists on the site, meaning they are much less organized and omnipresent then the days of r/slurforblackpeople spamming and upvoting stormfront propaganda on every single popular post. Likewise, how is the Daily Stormer's readership these days, having been delisted and kicked off hosts?

Shutting down these sites and booting them off servers works. It makes the erstwhile readers work to get what for many is just a mindless dose of racist/sexist memes, and there are easier and less toxic places to do that.
posted by Panjandrum at 8:44 PM on July 5, 2019 [46 favorites]


Working my way through the Mueller Report... there isn't any material in it at all (yet?) about the Russians using 8chan or even monitoring 8chan for ideas or inspiration, but certainly the kinds of campaigns they were running could have found fodder there or planted seeds there.

Of course there isn't. That's entirely ludicrous.

There's quite a bit hitting the news recently, though, about the FBI posting on 8chan anonymously to try to spread RussiaGate fearmongering exactly like this, and stoke up conspiracy theories about Russia running campaigns of manipulation.


Well, I'm still in the first part of the report, which is about Russia and what they did and various things that happened, and even with all the "Redacted: Harm To Ongoing Matter" things that come up, the picture painted is pretty stark.

8chan is sort of on another level, though. Based on what is reported here by the special council. I could see GRU unit 76225 (or whatever) maybe consulting it for a basis on what fuel to use to stoke division in US society, but I doubt they'd even try to actually manipulate anyone there into doing anything. Maybe.
posted by hippybear at 8:52 PM on July 5, 2019


I don't see how you'd practically remove content selectively from a site like 8chan… but you could certainly set up something similar as a honeypot. Log all the IP addresses, work to trace them back to people, do textual analysis against other similar sites, use browser fingerprints to deanonymize users, all the evil tricks. And after it had been running a while, see who you snagged. Bet you'd get some fairly big fish.
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:42 PM on July 5, 2019 [12 favorites]


I don't see how you'd practically remove content selectively from a site like 8chan… but you could certainly set up something similar as a honeypot. Log all the IP addresses, work to trace them back to people, do textual analysis against other similar sites, use browser fingerprints to deanonymize users, all the evil tricks. And after it had been running a while, see who you snagged. Bet you'd get some fairly big fish.

I've been curious about the amount of information one could glean just by monitoring chan posts, even without access to the server.
posted by atoxyl at 9:59 PM on July 5, 2019 [3 favorites]


I've had a certain interest in this guy's story for a while because there was always clearly such an element of self-loathing in it - though some of it just looks like proto-incel, now. Even though he talks about that and about being angry in this article he's still in a way trying to make it sound like the whole thing just got out of control, and well, I sorta believe that about 4chan and moot, whose attempts to reign things in came too little and too late. But everyone always knew that 8chan was the site where you could do stuff that was banned from 4chan. I was never even actually part of this chan shit and I know that. So I don't really have any doubt that Brennan really reveled in the site's ability to do damage, at one point. And something about this article feels underwhelming for failing to really get into that.
posted by atoxyl at 10:14 PM on July 5, 2019 [7 favorites]


I almost forgot (I don't think it's even mentioned here) but for a short time prior to creating 8chan, Brennan was the owner of Wizardchan, which was very proto-incel - "wizards" here are over-30 male virgins.

(The story I remember is that he sold it after revealing that he was, himself, no longer a virgin).
posted by atoxyl at 10:28 PM on July 5, 2019 [6 favorites]


I wish the U.S. and Philippine governments would freeze the assets of 8chan's current owner and bar individuals from doing business with him. He appears to be living in the Philippines running a literal pig farm (as well as the figurative pig farm 8chan online). I'm sure there are legal complexities to this as he's a U.S. citizen living abroad. Sanctions may only serve as an annoyance. He'll probably have supporters pay for the site's expenses but it will at least be something. The U.S. has leveled sanctions against Russian individuals for cyberattacks against the U.S. I don't see why sanctions shouldn't be setup against 8chan's owner as the Poway synagogue shooting is a domestic attack that seems to have been at least partially inspired by 8chan. Not to mention the New Zealand mosque shooting where 51 people died.
posted by mundo at 12:53 AM on July 6, 2019 [5 favorites]


Unfortunately I think there is some truth to Brennan's statement , “If 4chan ceased existing, they would go to another site. If 8chan ceased existing they would go to another site. And the same patterns would repeat over and over.”

There's friction and loss each time. Shut down 8chan, and someone sets up 9chan. But not every 8chan user will migrate. Some won't be arsed, some won't know about the new place, some won't like whoever set it up, etc, etc. Each time you shut them down, yes they pop back up, but each time a little weaker than before. Keep this up for a while - slap down any new site months or ideally weeks or days after it's established - and after a year there'd be hardly anyone left trying to follow the moving target still. Shut them down, and you're not done. You need to keep shutting them down.
posted by Dysk at 2:44 AM on July 6, 2019 [32 favorites]


It would need to be confirmed by other Mefites in Australia, but you can't get to 8chan without a VPN. Seriously. The same for certain torrent sites, too but 8chan seemed more difficult then just getting to the Pirate Bay.
posted by jadepearl at 2:53 AM on July 6, 2019 [1 favorite]


Unfortunately I think there is some truth to Brennan's statement , “If 4chan ceased existing, they would go to another site. If 8chan ceased existing they would go to another site. And the same patterns would repeat over and over.”

That seems to be something of an article of faith rather than an empirical fact:
https://medium.com/acm-cscw/you-cant-stay-here-the-efficacy-of-reddit-s-2015-ban-examined-through-hate-speech-93f22b140f26

That particular study is limited in scope since it couldn't track the same users' activities on other websites, but it at least seems to refute the idea that they would just carry on the same behavior to the same level in new or other subreddits.
posted by Wandering Idiot at 3:18 AM on July 6, 2019 [9 favorites]


The drop in the ubiquity of torrent sites is also evidence of shutdowns working. New torrrent sites have popped up, ways to circumvent the blocks on them exist... but torrenting things was far more commonplace years ago than it is now, in no small part because of continually putting roadblocks in the way of accessing torrent sites.
posted by Dysk at 3:25 AM on July 6, 2019 [14 favorites]


It would need to be confirmed by other Mefites in Australia, but you can't get to 8chan without a VPN.

Certainly seems that way on this connection at least. I didn't actually want to see the front page of /pol/ so I'm reasonably ok with this.
posted by deadwax at 4:19 AM on July 6, 2019


"Brennan’s views on eugenics were unarguably appalling, but they should also be seen in the context of his experience."

Nah.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 7:41 AM on July 6, 2019 [43 favorites]


How we became posthuman:
...in evaluating its behaviour, it is probably helpful to think of a chan site not as a collection of individual people but as some kind of many-headed trickster-god; a psychotic consciousness in its own right.
posted by doctornemo at 8:38 AM on July 6, 2019 [4 favorites]


I sorta believe that about 4chan and moot, whose attempts to reign things in came too little and too late

Didn't 4chan get started as a place for "ironic" pedophiles / child porn enthusiasts when Something Awful kicked them out? Correct me if I'm wrong, but either way...

Pretty sure moot does not deserve the rehabilitation Google has given him.
posted by schadenfrau at 9:06 AM on July 6, 2019 [7 favorites]


They called him Mr. Glass.
posted by grumpybear69 at 10:04 AM on July 6, 2019 [2 favorites]


I didn't say anything about what moot/Poole deserves - I just said I believe the claim that the thing he started got away from him. Part of this is that he was in fact a kid when he started the site - fifteen, not nineteen. His history as an admin can be framed as just... again and again closing the barn door after the horse was off and running. He cracked down on pedophilia, after the site had already become kind of infamous for it. He cracked down on open organizing of raids, which moved to other sites. He deleted the predecessor to /pol/ - before bringing it back, allegedly because deleting it just made the rest of the site more racist. And the final split in the userbase, before he washed his hands of the whole thing, came when he banned gamergate threads. That's all disastrously ineffectual adminning, but the 8chan promise was that they wouldn't even try to enforce any of these rules.

I think in my comments here I am probably conflating earlier sites like 7chan with 8chan, which apparently didn't exist until 2013, long after I was paying attention to any of this stuff. But from where I stand it's basically the same deal - people went to those spinoff boards because they were more relaxed about pedophiles, about raids and organized harassment etc.
posted by atoxyl at 11:38 AM on July 6, 2019 [2 favorites]


I always thought that 4chan had its origins as an English-language clone of Futaba / 2chan for the US otaku crowd. At least early on (like 2005ish?) I knew people who at least claimed with a straight face to go there for the manga discussion.

Although this informal history (written by some rando, so take it for what you will) suggests that 4chan's "moot" was originally a SA member and there was some degree of internal tension over stuff like posting anime torrents, which led to the creation of 4chan, meaning that from the get-go it attracted elements of SA that were too awful for "Something Awful". So maybe there's more crossover than I appreciated as an outsider. (I've never really understood SA, in all fairness.)

At least early on, I would describe 4chan as being more "online troll culture"—which is disagreeable, certainly, but probably not an existential threat to civil society—than fascist; it metastasized, it seems, sometime around the time of GamerGate (~2014) to become a right-wing extremist breeding ground.
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:49 AM on July 6, 2019 [4 favorites]


Pretty sure moot does not deserve the rehabilitation Google has given him.
He sure has, conveniently, dropped off the face of the earth, without doing anything substantial to clean up his fucking mess.

over the past few years the /pol/ (Politically Incorrect) board
What? Stormfront started taking over 4chan's /pol at least a decade ago. 8chan's /pol was nazis from the jump.

Letting this shit fester for years and enter the mainstream has not been working. It is well past time to try, I don't know, just about anything else, instead of shrugging and blowing off any effort as hopeless.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 11:57 AM on July 6, 2019 [20 favorites]


Also, it would be swell if writers would stop describing the sites' audience as "trolls." We're talking about white supremacists, mass murders, and terroristic attacks, not Habbo Hotel raids.

The perpetrators are all too happy, and cowardly, to suggest that they're in it for laughs, when, in reality, they're actively recruiting for their vile cause. That's how a "joke" about a hand symbol representing white supremacy becomes a reality, or how a coded reference to child pornography results in a man opening fire in a pizzeria. And those memes aren't making it to Reddit and Twitter organically, but through coordinated PR campaigns.

This shit may look dumb as hell, but that's by design, to hide the fact that it's deadly serious.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 12:34 PM on July 6, 2019 [21 favorites]


"Brennan’s views on eugenics were unarguably appalling, but they should also be seen in the context of his experience."

No. Just no. Not when he's published essays on White supremacist websites like The Daily Stormer calling for mass sterilization of people with "genetic defects*"/disabilities/health problems. That goes far beyond self-hatred and well into actively trying to hurt other people.

* his words not mine.
posted by Secret Sparrow at 12:47 PM on July 6, 2019 [9 favorites]


What? Stormfront started taking over 4chan's /pol at least a decade ago.

That happened was in the wake of Project Chanology, as I recall it, so yeah around 2010ish. I mean, 4chan always had edgelord racists even in the early days, but after Chanology some of the Anonymous folks decided that Stormfront would make a good next target. Which of course backfired horribly.
posted by tobascodagama at 2:02 PM on July 6, 2019 [3 favorites]


I totally forgot about the whole Project Chanology/anti-Scientology/Anonymous thing back in the late 00s. For a brief moment there, it seemed like maybe the Habbo Hotel raid armies were going to grow up and do something socially useful for a change. But then... nope. Big nope.
posted by Kadin2048 at 3:19 PM on July 6, 2019 [6 favorites]


There is less than zero tolerance to radical Islam in the United States. YouTube pulls that shit down; none of the major media outlets would be willing to spread anything approaching Islamist apologia; imams will report congregants to the FBI if they are suspected of being radicalized. I wouldn't say that there's no risk of violence ever again, but it turns out that dangerous ideologies that "go underground" are still less dangerous than the ones gaining adherents through being very public and accessible.

I'm glad if people are actually starting to focus on some of these nightmare forums as an enabler of the problem. But...this is like gun control and the Black Panthers. If ISIS had set up shop on 8chan...well, I'm sure it wouldn't be a "mysterious place" to intel officials. It feels like all the misogynist, white supremacist violence in this country is allowed to flourish because law enforcement has more respect for violent fascists than their victims.
posted by grandiloquiet at 4:18 PM on July 6, 2019 [27 favorites]


“If 4chan ceased existing, they would go to another site. If 8chan ceased existing they would go to another site. And the same patterns would repeat over and over.”


citation needed. this seems like a grand, ahistorical claim in the service of allowing yourself to keep making money.
posted by eustatic at 4:46 PM on July 6, 2019 [5 favorites]


What little I read on 8chan before nope-ing out was that the "joke" or ironic aspect to it was anything but. These people are serious. Dead serious. I don't care how fucked up the origins of someone maybe it still does not give them the right to fuck me up. I am not going to suffer Stockholm Syndrome for online "personas" or "personalities" so they can get their lulz or whatever the fuck they are seeking. Leaving things alone is tacit permission and approval. It should be considered the danger that it is and a breeding ground for extremism. Nothing good emerges out of these groups -- NOTHING. If you can show me that is not the case I would actually like to be proven wrong because I still hold on to the shred that most people are decent.
posted by jadepearl at 4:55 PM on July 6, 2019 [6 favorites]


> "It would need to be confirmed by other Mefites in Australia, but you can't get to 8chan without a VPN. Seriously."
Not officially, but the biggest ISPs decided on their own to block it (e.g. Telstra has, Optus did but I believe has removed that, Vodaphone & TPG did but I don't know the current state, etc.). Curiously, iiNet - owned by & now mostly integrated into TPG - didn't, at least on their FTT* connections.

Without digging too deeply, currently Telstra seem to be blocking at least 4/8chan, Liveleak, Zerohedge, & Voat.
> " The same for certain torrent sites, too but 8chan seemed more difficult then just getting to the Pirate Bay."
Telstra's at least is just a DNS block - same as the 'official' blocking of TPB & co - so easier-than-trivial to bypass.
posted by Pinback at 7:09 PM on July 6, 2019 [2 favorites]


citation needed. this seems like a grand, ahistorical claim in the service of allowing yourself to keep making money.

Given that 8chan is already the more radical "backup" version, and that it's already gone overseas, I'm not sure he's totally wrong about that one. Still not a good excuse to make money off it. Though I guess he doesn't, anymore?

4chan going away would almost certainly be a good thing at this point, because as I see it a major part of the problem is the radicalizing effect of the semi-organized far right having a permanent foothold in a big forum where people go for other kinds of content. If the factions there were scattered to the wind, you'd see that effect drop off noticeably.
posted by atoxyl at 7:10 PM on July 6, 2019 [1 favorite]


When you have a problem that crops up repeatedly the solution isn't to ignore it entirely but to deal with it repeatedly.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 7:24 PM on July 6, 2019 [20 favorites]


When you have a problem that crops up repeatedly the solution isn't to ignore it entirely but to deal with it repeatedly.

With fire and the fucking sword.
posted by prismatic7 at 9:23 PM on July 6, 2019 [8 favorites]


"Brennan’s views on eugenics were unarguably appalling, but they should also be seen in the context of his experience."

I certainly have no sympathy for eugenics as a philosophy, but it's hard to not have sympathy for Brennan at that point in his life, a physically tortured child who had no sense of security or control over his destiny. His arguments that people like himself should be spared the burden of life are rather transparently arguments that a just society should destroy him rather than allow him to -- or force him to -- suffer. Like someone said above, he's Mr. Glass from the Unbreakable movies; this is a pretty classic super villain origin story. Obviously he was wrong. Can I say I would not have been like him in the same situation? I absolutely can't. I wouldn't be like him now. I'm an adult who has a sense that the world is a varied place and that bad things and good things happen and etc. If I were a child born into a body that caused me constant pain and kept me from doing the things I wanted and made me subject to the whims of society, I don't know what I would be like, and probably you don't know what you'd be like. It sounds like a cliche, but I think that if more concerned adults had been there for him in his youth we might not have wound up with this particular headache.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 5:48 AM on July 7, 2019 [2 favorites]


It would need to be confirmed by other Mefites in Australia, but you can't get to 8chan without a VPN.

I'm in Australia and the only thing that stops me going there is that it's nowhere I want to go.
posted by flabdablet at 7:36 AM on July 7, 2019


"it's hard to not have sympathy for Brennan at that point in his life, a physically tortured child who had no sense of security or control over his destiny. His arguments that people like himself should be spared the burden of life are rather transparently arguments that a just society should destroy him rather than allow him to -- or force him to -- suffer."

I'd like to take a moment to remind you that, according to the article, he was arguing in favour of forcibly sterilizing people.

If he wanted people who were suffering to be able to opt out of that suffering he could have advocated for physician assisted suicide instead. If he wanted people who are carriers for diseases to be able to choose not to pass down those illnesses he could have advocated for increased access to genetic testing. But no, he was in favour of state sanctioned violence of a type that is all too fresh in our history and is still happening (on a less formal/organized level) to people in the U.S. & Canada (and I'm sure elsewhere) today.

"Can I say I would not have been like him in the same situation? I absolutely can't. I wouldn't be like him now. I'm an adult who has a sense that the world is a varied place and that bad things and good things happen and etc. If I were a child born into a body that caused me constant pain and kept me from doing the things I wanted and made me subject to the whims of society, I don't know what I would be like, and probably you don't know what you'd be like."

There are a LOT of people out there with life-altering illnesses and disabilities that have made their lives harder and the vast vaaaaast majority of us are not out there advocating for state-sanctioned violence against other people like us. So no, I don't think he's a sympathetic figure or that his reaction to his health problems is an understandable one.
posted by Secret Sparrow at 9:41 AM on July 7, 2019 [12 favorites]


He was 20. And powerless to enact any of the angry fantasies in his head. I feel sorry for him. If you're sure his life would not have led you to such a bleak pass, God love you. You're rad as hell. I'm not so sure about me. I'm glad that he's come around.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 10:44 AM on July 7, 2019 [2 favorites]


...That is to say, to the degree that it sounds like he has. Selling the site to a guy who sounds like a Nazi is pretty bad. Moving to the Philippines with his new money strikes me as sketchy, as does a fast marriage, as does a fast conversion to Christianity. I'll be serious, it doesn't sound like the man's done a 180, just that he's cleaned up his act a little and offloaded a site that had become a burden. But he does sound contrite about his views on eugenics, and I do believe that, and can see how someone in his circumstances could have grown up to be a disaster in adolescence. Again, if everyone else reading this is sure they could never have been warped by a bad childhood, that's cool. Maybe I'm just the one who's not, and I respect your deep incorruptibility or whatever.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 11:11 AM on July 7, 2019 [1 favorite]


"He was 20. And powerless to enact any of the angry fantasies in his head."

They weren't just "angry fantasies in his head". He was an adult (albeit a young adult) publishing essays for public consumption on Neo-Nazi web sites, lending support to Nazi ideology.

"Again, if everyone else reading this is sure they could never have been warped by a bad childhood, that's cool. Maybe I'm just the one who's not, and I respect your deep incorruptibility or whatever."

My point was that this is not a theoretical question for many people, including people reading and posting on Metafilter. We don't have to wonder whether if we'd had a "bad childhood" and serious health problems we'd have wound up chumming around with neo-Nazis and advocating for state-sanctioned violence against people with disabilities. We've lived that and we didn't. And I don't think that marks us as special or "incorruptible" or "rad as hell". He's the one who's an outlier.
posted by Secret Sparrow at 12:17 PM on July 7, 2019 [15 favorites]


This is your friendly reminder that the whole disability-as-origin-of-villany thing is a toxic trope that has everything to do with able-bodied people's perception of folks with disabilities, and nothing to do with actual people's lives.

Plenty of disabled folks have written about how damaging this kind of crap is. I think we can do better here.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 7:27 PM on July 7, 2019 [13 favorites]


I'm going to move on after this, but this...isn't a trope, it's a person's real life; it's very clear that while his disability is not itself the cause of this person's personality problems, the circumstances that arose as a result of an inadequate social safety net for kids with disabilities did not help, at all. I'm not a fan of this guy either, but it doesn't sound like who he is just came out of nowhere. And even if it did, are we supposed to demand...what? That he put himself in the wicker man over expressing terrible ideas that he's since recanted? I'm not sure that either discounting social ills as a cause for antisocial behavior or refusing to believe people could mature beyond stupid views they held in young adulthood are really the progressive points of view I think that you guys think they are.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 4:45 AM on July 8, 2019 [4 favorites]


Each time you shut them down, yes they pop back up, but each time a little weaker than before. Keep this up for a while - slap down any new site months or ideally weeks or days after it's established - and after a year there'd be hardly anyone left trying to follow the moving target still.

Yes, this is exactly how things used to be in my neck of the woods. Yes, there were Nazi-sympathisers out there, but they had to find each other through crappy zines or obscure newsgroups and were constantly at risk of being driven out of whatever space they found.

As a far right extremist, you weren't banned from expressing your opinions or associating with others who shared them. But you had to be pretty damn committed to do any of those things and your energy was spent keeping your existing networks active rather than recruiting or growing a movement.
posted by Busy Old Fool at 4:58 AM on July 9, 2019 [3 favorites]


« Older I need your ball, your bag, and your shoes.   |   The great Atlantic Sargassum belt Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments