35 votes

How a childhood of loneliness and anger led the founder of 8chan to create one of the darkest corners of the internet

46 comments

  1. [6]
    alyaza Link
    i made a post about this on one of the last pieces which interviewed brennan, and i still stand by just about everything that i said there. brennan can dissociate himself from 8chan and the values...

    i made a post about this on one of the last pieces which interviewed brennan, and i still stand by just about everything that i said there. brennan can dissociate himself from 8chan and the values of free speech, but fundamentally the website and the actions of its users still exist and will continue to exist for as long as it's not getting jim watkins in legal hot water because he decided to stick a limb out and stand on the idea of free speech even though he says he doesn't believe in it. it's his dumb baby which is killing people whether he's the head of the dumb baby or not, and the fucking least he could to do make amends for that is make sure it doesn't happen again in his remaining miserable time on this planet.

    16 votes
    1. [5]
      Deimos Link Parent
      I agree that his attitude toward it is bad and that he shouldn't just be saying, "whoops, my bad, oh well". The "if I hadn't built it, it would have just happened somewhere else anyway"...

      I agree that his attitude toward it is bad and that he shouldn't just be saying, "whoops, my bad, oh well". The "if I hadn't built it, it would have just happened somewhere else anyway" justification is especially a pet peeve of mine, from this paragraph:

      If Brennan hadn’t created 8chan, the same culture would have developed elsewhere, he insists. “It’s not the technology that causes what happens, it’s really the hearts of the people who are using it,” he says. “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 the people running other sites now like Voat and saidit are making some of the same mistakes, where they're just so happy to see anyone adopting their site that they're willing to twist the site into whatever those people want, regardless of what it ends up turning into over the longer term.

      What I don't understand though is what you're expecting him to do. He has no control or influence over 8chan any more, so what do you mean when you say that he should be making sure that it can't happen again?

      29 votes
      1. [4]
        alyaza Link Parent
        i mean he could lean on his experience having run a radically free-speech website to dissuade people to the best of his abilities from making the same mistakes. ultimately people will have their...

        What I don't understand though is what you're expecting him to do. He has no control or influence over 8chan any more, so what do you mean when you say that he should be making sure that it can't happen again?

        i mean he could lean on his experience having run a radically free-speech website to dissuade people to the best of his abilities from making the same mistakes. ultimately people will have their websites and 8chan's not going anywhere, but brennan seems pretty content to do literally nothing but get interviewed and throw a bit of a pity party about the monster he created without taking any actual steps toward ensuring someone else doesn't create a similar monster down the road unintentionally (or to prevent people from getting sucked into such websites) even though he's one of a very small group of people on the internet who has direct experience with that exact sort of thing.

        17 votes
        1. [2]
          Deimos Link Parent
          Yeah, I agree that it would be nice to see some of the recognized names that have changed their mind about "absolute free speech" sites come out and write more about why they moved away from it...

          Yeah, I agree that it would be nice to see some of the recognized names that have changed their mind about "absolute free speech" sites come out and write more about why they moved away from it and their regrets about having helped build that culture.

          Unfortunately I think most of them are totally burned out and don't want to put a target back on their heads by speaking strongly against it. It's a lot easier and safer to just try and fade away or make exactly these kind of half-assed statements—vaguely negative, but not enough to get the crazy people riled up against you. They know intimately how much trouble some of these groups can cause if they piss them off, and don't want to make themselves the mob's target. It's understandable, but not helpful.

          Honestly, I should probably try to write about those subjects too. I haven't written any blog posts for Tildes at all other than announcements for the original launch and the open-sourcing, but I really should. I used to have that "the solution to bad speech is more speech" attitude too, but I've obviously changed my mind.

          30 votes
          1. Eva Link Parent
            It sort of skims over the fact that Watkins (the new owner of the site, as it mentions) is a bit of a psychopath (with a history of theft and manipulation, to-boot), which probably had more to do...

            It sort of skims over the fact that Watkins (the new owner of the site, as it mentions) is a bit of a psychopath (with a history of theft and manipulation, to-boot), which probably had more to do with Brennan changing his views than the speech itself did.

            9 votes
        2. Micycle_the_Bichael Link Parent
          I'll expand on this with my own thoughts: He could do literally anything about any of the events in his life that lead to this moment. I've searched a bit and can't find anything but maybe I'm...

          I'll expand on this with my own thoughts: He could do literally anything about any of the events in his life that lead to this moment. I've searched a bit and can't find anything but maybe I'm wrong and missing it, but like you said he seems content to just do surface-level interviews and call it a day. I think any critical analysis and discussion about his life experiences could be considered positive. Rather than just say "yeah I used to be huge on eugenics and now I'm not" he could talk about why he isn't, link to sources that made him change his views, discuss why those views are harmful (if he believes they are). Same thing for why he created and then left 8chan. Talk about experiences with the types of people who frequent 8chan. A great one would be a reflection on the ethics of ownership for what you build but he (and apparently lots of people on tildes) don't think tech has any ethical responsibilities for things they build.

          6 votes
  2. Whom (edited ) Link
    It's horrifying seeing what 8chan has become. I remember an ignorant me from the site's early days thinking it was a cool alternative to 4chan where we could escape and separate ourselves from the...

    It's horrifying seeing what 8chan has become. I remember an ignorant me from the site's early days thinking it was a cool alternative to 4chan where we could escape and separate ourselves from the hateful people. There was a bit of that for a while, I remember the absolute war over the anarchism board, but it quickly became apparent that there was no room for anyone but the worst of the worst. As is a common story, when you create an alternative site to another without specific ideological goals...the people you're mostly gonna get are the ones who are too shitty for the "parent" site.

    If I'm honest, though, I don't think this article comes from a place of much understanding of how these sites operate. It seems like guessing at the culture from a combination of the big flashy things (from raids to atrocities) and what they got from their interview. I don't want to do a substantial "takedown" since that's a big task and I'd mostly be pulling from my own experience, but when they say "It is the structure of a chan site itself that radicalises people" with the ignorance displayed throughout...it holds no weight for me.

    It's still a useful piece otherwise, I'd just suggest taking a critical eye toward their comments about anonymity and such.

    14 votes
  3. [24]
    onyxleopard Link
    I have to take issue with the argument that websites are somehow the cause of atrocities. There is a thread of reasoning that has been repeated several times, but it remains fallacious: vile media...

    I have to take issue with the argument that websites are somehow the cause of atrocities. There is a thread of reasoning that has been repeated several times, but it remains fallacious: vile media begets vile behavior, and censorship is the only answer (think of the children!).

    The same arguments have been foisted against all sorts of media, including books, comics, movies, trading card games, video games (and probably any other media that has offended some puritanical sensibility).

    Whinging about how image age boards are dangerous is ignoring the real issues: Why are there all these hateful young people (mostly males) congregating under the banner of fascism or nihilism?

    We now know that Russia’s IRA fanned the flames of the Gamergate movement as practice for their wider spread 2016 US election operations. The same fear, uncertainty, and doubt that is preyed upon by the cynical /pol/ board activists was carried out on a national scale, and it used platforms well beyond the scope of image boards. You can take that as an argument to shut down Facebook and Twitter and the talking heads TV news channels, but I think that is myopic. You can argue that these media are vectors for harmful memes to spread, but I see this argument as equally as specious as the arguments in stuff like this. If young people are acting out, sometimes violently, it is not because of Pokémon or Nazi-sympathetic image macros. The fundamental issue is the societal problems themselves, not the individuals who act out in reaction to them. Media are representations of society. They can’t cause direct harm any more than a reflection in a mirror can. And, if we put something better in front of the mirror, maybe we’ll like the reflection better? That’s a preferred solution to me than throwing a blanket over the mirror and pretending the ugliness is gone.

    11 votes
    1. [23]
      alyaza Link Parent
      i'm as big of a believer in the "media doesn't inherently cause people to be violent" idea as the next guy, but realistically, the answer for most of these people is because they're being brought...

      Whinging about how image age boards are dangerous is ignoring the real issues: Why are there all these hateful young people (mostly males) congregating under the banner of fascism or nihilism?

      i'm as big of a believer in the "media doesn't inherently cause people to be violent" idea as the next guy, but realistically, the answer for most of these people is because they're being brought onto and engaging in platforms which are infested with fascists, and being surrounded by fascists tends to either turn people into fascists themselves or drive them away immediately, especially with younger people who are often trying to find their standing in the world and something they believe in.

      we can see evidence of this reality by using here, even: tildes is probably never going to produce a synagogue shooter or even a handful of fascists (even if it grows to be quite large), purely because it doesn't allow vitriol and things like hate speech and never will; 8chan can, does, and has produced both because 8chan is loaded with people who engage in brinksmanship with things of that nature in the name of the white race, and someone who enters that arena who isn't affiliated with that sort of thing is probably either going to run for the hills or quickly find themselves in comfortable company.

      22 votes
      1. [22]
        onyxleopard Link Parent
        There’s certainly conflation of the nature of topics discussed on a forum and the level of civility moderated by the community or directly by moderators. But, I wonder if there isn’t...

        There’s certainly conflation of the nature of topics discussed on a forum and the level of civility moderated by the community or directly by moderators. But, I wonder if there isn’t self-censorship at play.

        How would Tildes react to a hypothetical user who would post thought pieces on fascism coming from an intellectual point of view and who was genuinely interested in discussing fascist ideology? I can imagine a segment of Tildes reacting poorly to that. I think it would be healthy to have discussion and point out the reasons why such ideology is flawed (esp. for younger or less educated people who may not have been exposed to the arguments against fascism).

        The problem with censoring ideas (in any context) is that people are less exposed to them, and are less equipped to reject bad ideas. This gets to a deeper issue of lack of education, but, needless to say, a lot people probably learn things through exposure on the internet. Someplace like 8chan is going to try censor the exact kind of content that would deflate the fascist memes promulgated therein, because if the 8chan user base were better educated and equipped to tackle the ideological issues they are dealing with, they’d quickly find they are not very substantive. I think you’d find most of the younger male audience is actually more concerned with their self-image of being edgy and contrarian than they are serious about race wars. But it’s very difficult to prove that most of these cesspools are actually mostly just trolls or devils advocates due to the inherent anonymity.

        3 votes
        1. alyaza Link Parent
          probably ordinarily, to be honest? there's a big difference between intellectual discussion of fascism as an ideology and supporting and propagating it--as is the case on 4chan and 8chan and in...

          How would Tildes react to a hypothetical user who would post thought pieces on fascism coming from an intellectual point of view and who was genuinely interested in discussing fascist ideology? I can imagine a segment of Tildes reacting poorly to that.

          probably ordinarily, to be honest? there's a big difference between intellectual discussion of fascism as an ideology and supporting and propagating it--as is the case on 4chan and 8chan and in far-right spaces and places with far-right spaces--and how those two play out, and people can often tell the difference between the two quite well.

          The problem with censoring ideas (in any context) is that people are less exposed to them, and are less equipped to reject bad ideas.

          i don't think that follows at all with respect to fascists spreading their ideology. we see what happens when you don't deplatform fascists and instead let people inoculate themselves as your idea here suggests: they recruit people--quite effectively, in fact.

          I think you’d find most of the younger male audience is actually more concerned with their self-image of being edgy and contrarian than they are serious about race wars. But it’s very difficult to prove that most of these cesspools are actually mostly just trolls or devils advocates due to the inherent anonymity.

          i greatly dislike this line of argumentation. ironic bigotry is indistinguishable from and should be treated as bigotry; in the same vein, "ironic" fascism is indistinguishable from and should be treated the same as genuine fascism. i don't particularly care if you only "ironically" want to shove jews in ovens: at the end of the day, you're still spreading fascist propaganda, lol.

          19 votes
        2. [19]
          Macil Link Parent
          I think that's how these situations start out, but these situations are the perfect breeding ground for more serious bigotry. I really love this quote after my experience with 4chan and alt-chan...

          I think you’d find most of the younger male audience is actually more concerned with their self-image of being edgy and contrarian than they are serious about race wars. But it’s very difficult to prove that most of these cesspools are actually mostly just trolls or devils advocates due to the inherent anonymity.

          I think that's how these situations start out, but these situations are the perfect breeding ground for more serious bigotry. I really love this quote after my experience with 4chan and alt-chan culture: "Any community that gets its laughs by pretending to be idiots will eventually be flooded by actual idiots who mistakenly believe that they're in good company.". Though I think that quote is too optimistic by almost painting the original people "pretending to be idiots" and the later "actual idiots" as separate groups. As the nature of a group evolves, the original people keep up with it in order to fit in. They might tell themselves they're being ironic, but they tend to increasingly adopt all of the actions of an unironic believer.

          14 votes
          1. [18]
            onyxleopard Link Parent
            Who gets to decide which groups get to have digital platforms on which to commiserate? You and I may think they’re idiots, but it’s problematic when the decision about who gets to participate is a...

            Who gets to decide which groups get to have digital platforms on which to commiserate? You and I may think they’re idiots, but it’s problematic when the decision about who gets to participate is a value judgment. I say, don’t bother yourself with the censorship and try to just reduce the overall level of idiocy.

            3 votes
            1. [17]
              hhh (edited ) Link Parent
              The owners of the website, usually. The alt-right today (and Nazis historically) have abused free speech to spread misinformation, lies, and hatred. It takes much, much more time to debunk what...

              Who gets to decide which which groups get to have digital platforms on which to commiserate

              The owners of the website, usually.

              The alt-right today (and Nazis historically) have abused free speech to spread misinformation, lies, and hatred. It takes much, much more time to debunk what they say than for them to make a false or hateful statement. And they promote the values of "free speech" until they get into power, and immediately remove said free speech.

              Personally, i've seen many people on reddit and 4chan get "redpilled" and it's very distressing to think about, especially with how much larger the communities converting them are becoming.

              So basically, Nazi and the Alt-Right bring nothing to the table, and instead basically light the table on fire and try and get people to touch it.

              10 votes
              1. [16]
                onyxleopard Link Parent
                I’m not arguing that the communities are good or contribute anything. I’m arguing that there are endemic societal problems and if we solved those, there’d be no one for the fascists to prey on....

                I’m not arguing that the communities are good or contribute anything. I’m arguing that there are endemic societal problems and if we solved those, there’d be no one for the fascists to prey on. It’s the same reason that treating symptoms without treating an underlying disease is futile.

                2 votes
                1. [5]
                  hhh Link Parent
                  I think it's more like looking at a tumor and deciding not to treat it. There are underlying societal issues, sure, but the Alt-Right wouldn't have been anywhere where it is today without youtube,...

                  I think it's more like looking at a tumor and deciding not to treat it. There are underlying societal issues, sure, but the Alt-Right wouldn't have been anywhere where it is today without youtube, reddit, facebook, etc.

                  5 votes
                  1. alyaza Link Parent
                    yeah. there are absolutely societal issues which underlie all of this and create it and we should address those issues--but it's a whole hell of a lot easier to just deplatform fascists in the...

                    yeah. there are absolutely societal issues which underlie all of this and create it and we should address those issues--but it's a whole hell of a lot easier to just deplatform fascists in the interim as a preventative measure than it will ever be to drop that to address the societal issues which create them. addressing the societal issues will probably take decades and is going to be super fucking complicated and involve reckonings a lot of people would like to not deal with.

                    7 votes
                  2. [3]
                    onyxleopard Link Parent
                    I think it would have, it just wouldn’t be as well publicized. I think the last election cycle should be a wake up call that there is endemic fascism in the West, and it’s been simmering for a...

                    I think it would have, it just wouldn’t be as well publicized. I think the last election cycle should be a wake up call that there is endemic fascism in the West, and it’s been simmering for a while, unnoticed by the mainstream. These people were there all along. If you ‘deplatform’ then do you think they will disappear? Again, I think it’s fallacious to conceptualize the internet as reality. People existed before the internet, and lots of consequential groups communicate and take action outside the internet. If you try to play whack-a-mole with a censorship hammer, it’s not going to do much other than push them to mailing lists or good old fashioned conventions/rallies/meetups. For platforms that want to curate their own content, I’m totally fine with them censoring themselves. But, they should be honest and consistent about that with clearly defined policies instead of reactionary stuff like Reddit has pulled.

                    1 vote
                    1. [2]
                      Deimos (edited ) Link Parent
                      The fundamental mistake in this viewpoint is assuming that everyone is equally invested in the group and the whole thing just relocates freely. The important part is that very, very few of the...

                      If you try to play whack-a-mole with a censorship hammer, it’s not going to do much other than push them to mailing lists or good old fashioned conventions/rallies/meetups.

                      The fundamental mistake in this viewpoint is assuming that everyone is equally invested in the group and the whole thing just relocates freely. The important part is that very, very few of the people care enough about it to persevere through being "pushed".

                      When a hateful group gets banned by reddit and moves to Voat, it pretty much always ends up being less than 10% of the size it was on reddit and the activity drops precipitously. The large majority of the group's "members" really only associate with it out of convenience, and if they have to go out of their normal routine to find it, the reality is that they don't care anywhere near that much about it and won't bother.

                      It's quite amazing, really. Think of how minuscule that difference is: all they need to do is click a different bookmark or launch a different app and they'd be able to look at and participate in exactly the same type of group in an almost identical format. And yet, that completely trivial amount of effort is somehow still enough to dissuade 90% of them or more. If they had to move to a mailing list, I bet they'd easily lose over 99%.

                      There's a massive difference between having this type of content available on sites that people already frequent (Facebook, Twitter, reddit, etc.), and making people need to go to the dark corners of the internet to find it. And if they weren't allowed to set up and grow on those platforms initially and everyone had to go to those dark corners in the first place to find them, they never would have reached any significant size.

                      17 votes
                      1. onyxleopard Link Parent
                        That’s a fair point if that’s really true, and I appreciate your perspective as someone who has had experience running such platforms. I’m still skeptical that anyone can confidently measure such...

                        The large majority of the group's "members" really only associate with it out of convenience, and if they have to go out of their normal routine to find it, the reality is that they don't care anywhere near that much about it and won't bother.

                        That’s a fair point if that’s really true, and I appreciate your perspective as someone who has had experience running such platforms. I’m still skeptical that anyone can confidently measure such things. I can entertain the idea that most of the activity on these deplorable forums are from a core contingent of real people who are quite serious about it and the remainder are from fake accounts run by state actors (such as Russia). I think if you force the core contingent somewhere else, they will pop up again, and the fake provocateurs will follow them eventually if not immediately.

                        There's a massive difference between having this type of content available on sites that people already frequent (Facebook, Twitter, reddit, etc.), and making people need to go to the dark corners of the internet to find it.

                        I’m not sure I’m understanding this point. I would consider 8chan a relatively obscure corner of the internet, even if it’s not insignificant in terms of site visits/activity.

                        And if they weren't allowed to set up and grow on those platforms initially and everyone had to go to those dark corners in the first place to find them, they never would have reached any significant size.

                        I think this is missing the fact that these people are out there, whether or not they have a presence on the internet. Their internet presence is merely an observable phenomenon. Just because you shut down /r/TD or the other such platforms, that doesn’t make them disappear, it only diminishes their digital footprint. Sure, human laziness is a major inertial factor, and you be right that relying on the factor is a sufficient deterrent. And I’m totally not against shutting down 8chan or /r/TD (or even Facebook or Twitter, but mostly for other reasons), but I just don’t think that it will have the desired effect, and the whole "out of sight out of mind" effect of censoring them digitally is ultimately more dangerous than confronting these people directly in the real world through legal recourse when necessary.

                        1 vote
                2. [10]
                  Algernon_Asimov Link Parent
                  Hi there, @onyxleopard. Thanks for coming in today. The results of your tests are back. It seems you do have cancer, and it's spreading. We can start chemotherapy to treat the cancer this week....

                  Hi there, @onyxleopard. Thanks for coming in today. The results of your tests are back. It seems you do have cancer, and it's spreading.

                  We can start chemotherapy to treat the cancer this week. You'll need to come in twice a week for the next six months for this treatment. At the end of six months, we'll do more tests to see if the cancer is removed. You may need to continue treatment after that time.

                  However, while we're treating the cancer, it will continue to spread, and it will jump into other organs. It will spread more slowly as the treatment goes on, but it will keep spreading. And, the more it spreads, the longer we'll need to continue the treatment, to deal the new cancer sites as they arise.

                  We also have some pills you can take in the meantime which will stop the cancer spreading. They won't cure the cancer, but they will prevent it jumping into other organs.

                  Do you want to take the pills while you're having the chemotherapy, or just have the chemotherapy?

                  This isn't an either-or situation. Sure, we need to treat the underlying problems that cause people to become radicalised, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't also treat the symptoms and stop the problem from spreading.

                  3 votes
                  1. [9]
                    onyxleopard Link Parent
                    I don’t think your analogy is apt. If there were magical pills that could stop cancer spreading, that would be great, but that’s not how cancer works and it’s also not how digital communication...

                    I don’t think your analogy is apt. If there were magical pills that could stop cancer spreading, that would be great, but that’s not how cancer works and it’s also not how digital communication platforms work either. There is no magic 'censor all fascism' button that can magically 'deplatform' them. Pretending there is is woefully naive. If you’re going to shut down 8chan, you really need to shut down Twitter and Facebook and all the other social media where fascists peddle their crap as well. And since that’s not going to happen, you’re just going to end up concentrating the fascists on platforms where they aren’t welcome, disrupting such services for well-meaning people who don’t want their forums overrun with Stormfront content.

                    1 vote
                    1. [8]
                      Algernon_Asimov Link Parent
                      It's intended to be a hypothetical and imaginary scenario to make a point, not a literal medical treatise on the treatment of cancer. No, there isn't. However, some people can be "de-platformed"...

                      but that’s not how cancer works

                      It's intended to be a hypothetical and imaginary scenario to make a point, not a literal medical treatise on the treatment of cancer.

                      There is no magic 'censor all fascism' button that can magically 'deplatform' them.

                      No, there isn't. However, some people can be "de-platformed" from some websites. And some progress in this area is better than none.

                      You're basically saying that, unless we can fix *all the problems of fascism on the internet, we should just give up and fix none of the problems. "All or nothing" is a very simplistic way to view the world. Sometimes it is worthwhile to fix part of a problem, rather than none of it. Step-by-step improvement is still improvement.

                      6 votes
                      1. [7]
                        onyxleopard Link Parent
                        That’s not a valid way to rhetorically leverage an analogy, though. There has to be some valid similarity to the domain you're are analogizing into, otherwise there’s no point in avoiding saying...

                        It's intended to be a hypothetical and imaginary scenario to make a point, not a literal medical treatise on the treatment of cancer.

                        That’s not a valid way to rhetorically leverage an analogy, though. There has to be some valid similarity to the domain you're are analogizing into, otherwise there’s no point in avoiding saying what you intended directly.

                        You're basically saying that, unless we can fix *all the problems of fascism on the internet, we should just give up and fix none of the problems.

                        No, I’m saying that the game of whack-a-mole censorship is a distraction and isn’t really solving any problems.

                        1 vote
                        1. [6]
                          Algernon_Asimov Link Parent
                          So you don't think that cutting people off from easily accessible radicalisation material solves any problems at all? You don't think that stopping disenchanted teenage boys and young men from...

                          No, I’m saying that the game of whack-a-mole censorship is a distraction and isn’t really solving any problems.

                          So you don't think that cutting people off from easily accessible radicalisation material solves any problems at all? You don't think that stopping disenchanted teenage boys and young men from reading misogynist and fascist forums prevents them from radicalising at all? You don't think that even one young man can be prevented from radicalising by removing his access to this type of forum? We can't save one single person from radicalising this way?

                          3 votes
                          1. [2]
                            9000 (edited ) Link Parent
                            No, I don't think that's what @onyxleopard is saying. They said it's a distraction and doesn't help much. But, I don't think it's worth moving heaven and earth to prevent a single person out of...

                            You don't think that stopping disenchanted teenage boys and young men from reading misogynist and fascist forums prevents them from radicalising at all? You don't think that even one young man can be prevented from radicalising by removing his access to this type of forum? We can't save one single person from radicalising this way?

                            No, I don't think that's what @onyxleopard is saying. They said it's a distraction and doesn't help much. But, I don't think it's worth moving heaven and earth to prevent a single person out of eight billion being radicalized. There is a point where it's no longer worth it. Of course, we're not actually talking about only one person, and we're not actually talking about moving heaven and earth, but I think it's fair to question what the trade offs of such a decision mean. If it prevents half of all white supremacist-inspired mass shootings but also stifles half of all legitimate political expression too, is that worth it?

                            And I don't actually care about the answer to that specific question, but these are complicated issues with real trade offs. You accused him of viewing things as "all or nothing" earlier, and yet here you are strawmanning his argument.

                            Personally, I think a lot of these problems either stem, or are deeply exacerbated by, a quick decline in trust across society. I think this is why extremist positions grow, as people no longer trust government and civil society. I also think this is why people don't want Google or Facebook or Reddit deciding speech. The companies aren't transparent, and people don't trust they'd do it well, or even right at all. Asking for moderation and deplatforming, without talking about the processes that should surround it, is legitimately disconcerting. We're asking for power, without talking about accountability. That doesn't build trust, and won't help treat the underlying disease.

                            But, as has been said, this doesn't have to be an either/or. We can talk about how to deplatform as we talk about how to build those systems in a trustworthy way. We can talk about how to create trustworthy spaces, while also providing community guidelines. But there's cost to everything, and we need to be aware of what that cost is and consciously accept it, not just implement the first solution we see.

                            EDIT: typo

                            3 votes
                            1. Algernon_Asimov Link Parent
                              I think you're being somewhat generous in your interpretation of @onyxleopard's arguments in this thread. It seems to me that they're quite consistently arguing against censorship of any kind. To...

                              I think you're being somewhat generous in your interpretation of @onyxleopard's arguments in this thread. It seems to me that they're quite consistently arguing against censorship of any kind. To support this argument, they're using the justification that it's "futile" and that it "isn’t really solving any problems". Those seem quite definite statements, and don't leave a lot of room for compromise. At best, they've said "it’s not going to do much other than push them to mailing lists or good old fashioned conventions/rallies/meetups" - which is just another way of saying that censorship doesn't solve anything. They haven't once implied that shutting down forums will produce any good outcomes whatsoever.

                              If it prevents half of all white supremacist-inspired mass shootings but also stifles half of all legitimate political expression too, is that worth it?

                              Fuck yes! Saving dozens of lives per year is worth it.

                              But, as has been said, this doesn't have to be an either/or.

                              Exactly.

                              1 vote
                          2. [3]
                            onyxleopard Link Parent
                            You’re reducing the argument to absurdity. I can do the same thing. Why don't we just shut down the entire world wide web? That’ll prevent a lot of people from being exposed to fascist ideas.

                            You don't think that even one young man can be prevented from radicalising by removing his access to this type of forum? We can't save one single person from radicalising this way?

                            You’re reducing the argument to absurdity. I can do the same thing. Why don't we just shut down the entire world wide web? That’ll prevent a lot of people from being exposed to fascist ideas.

                            1 vote
                            1. [2]
                              Algernon_Asimov Link Parent
                              You're the one arguing that shutting down forums doesn't solve any problems. I'm merely pointing out that absurdity. Of course shutting down a toxic forum solves some problems. It might not solve...

                              You’re reducing the argument to absurdity.

                              You're the one arguing that shutting down forums doesn't solve any problems. I'm merely pointing out that absurdity.

                              Of course shutting down a toxic forum solves some problems. It might not solve all problems. It might not even solve the problems that you want solved. But it does solve some problems. It's absurd to argue otherwise.

                              1 vote
                              1. onyxleopard Link Parent
                                You’re not arguing your position rationally. You keep saying ‘of course’ as if your position is self-evident. I don’t know how to have a productive discussion with you if you’re going to maintain...

                                You’re not arguing your position rationally. You keep saying ‘of course’ as if your position is self-evident. I don’t know how to have a productive discussion with you if you’re going to maintain that your position is the only correct one without any evidence, and you’re going to reject the points that I made out of hand.

                                4 votes
        3. Whom Link Parent
          Because "coming from an intellectual point of view" doesn't it down enough, I think it really depends. I can see Tildes handling threads like "Why did fascism catch on in the first place?" or...

          How would Tildes react to a hypothetical user who would post thought pieces on fascism coming from an intellectual point of view and who was genuinely interested in discussing fascist ideology?

          Because "coming from an intellectual point of view" doesn't it down enough, I think it really depends. I can see Tildes handling threads like "Why did fascism catch on in the first place?" or "Let's talk about Nazi occultism" as matters of historical interest. ...but I think it seems pretty clear now that trying to discuss the "merits" of fascism isn't something that will be tolerated here. It doesn't matter if it is framed in an "intellectual" manner, any avenue for arguing the supposed merits of fascism does not have a place here, and that's very much okay.

          The problem with allowing that stuff to be entertained in order to debunk it is that you're setting it up as another valid option with plusses and minuses just like anything else. It moves fascism from being the darkest moment and greatest embarassment of the modern world to just another ideology that you can choose to follow. In other words, it normalizes that shit. Plus it makes for a shitty website. I don't know about you, but I want to stay in places where "fascism is bad" is a baseline assumption that we don't have to tread over and debate. No amount of fancy words and "intellectualism" can escape what you're actually discussing there.

          I'm not accusing you of anything, btw, just addressing the opposite ends of the range that falls under topics on fascism "from an intellectual point of view".

          8 votes
  4. Bullmaestro (edited ) Link
    In my eyes, 8chan's dark subculture is a symptom rather than a cause of modern society's ills. The types to frequent chan boards are the dorks who spent their middle and high school years being...

    In my eyes, 8chan's dark subculture is a symptom rather than a cause of modern society's ills.

    The types to frequent chan boards are the dorks who spent their middle and high school years being slammed into lockers, beaten up, robbed of their lunch money, laughed at by fellow pupils and overall rejected from any kind of social group. They turned to various internet communities because that was the only place they'd really find solace.

    Of course the unsuccessful and disenfranchised rejects of our society would turn towards increasingly radical beliefs, especially as they'd go into adulthood experiencing much of the same thing that made their school years a misery.

    Take Elliot Rodger for instance, somebody who wasn't radicalised by chan boards but rather than various incel communities. His 137 page manifesto chronicled the years of bullying, ill treatment and social exclusion he suffered from his peers between middle school and when he attended UC Santa Barbara. This coupled with the mental illnesses he was suffering from was the perfect recipe to create a mass shooter.

    4 votes
  5. [7]
    Eva Link
    Oh my; I haven't read the article yet, but can we all take a second to admire how beautiful the CSS on that page is? I was struck by it; it's absolutely beautiful.

    Oh my; I haven't read the article yet, but can we all take a second to admire how beautiful the CSS on that page is? I was struck by it; it's absolutely beautiful.

    3 votes
    1. [6]
      iiv Link Parent
      What do you like about it? It's a good size text-area, but I dislike the font. It seems to be some kind of faux-print font.

      What do you like about it? It's a good size text-area, but I dislike the font. It seems to be some kind of faux-print font.

      5 votes
      1. [5]
        Eva Link Parent
        That's actually one of the reasons why I like it; the font, mixed with the genuine thought put into the colour scheme.

        That's actually one of the reasons why I like it; the font, mixed with the genuine thought put into the colour scheme.

        5 votes
        1. [4]
          Neverland Link Parent
          I also like that font (Wolpe Pegasus) at first glance. Good eye. I am very curious about your opinion on this design: https://theoutline.com edit: FYI: I suck at design, and I am very intrigued by...

          I also like that font (Wolpe Pegasus) at first glance. Good eye.

          I am very curious about your opinion on this design: https://theoutline.com

          edit: FYI: I suck at design, and I am very intrigued by folks that have a strong opinion on it, in an effort to learn... thanks!

          3 votes
          1. [3]
            Eva Link Parent
            I love The Outline! I first read an article from it a couple of months after they had started publishing, and I was in love with the design; the first thing that came to mind was how elegantly...

            I love The Outline! I first read an article from it a couple of months after they had started publishing, and I was in love with the design; the first thing that came to mind was how elegantly (almost enjoyable so) they handled ads.

            2 votes
            1. [2]
              Neverland Link Parent
              Me too. To my old eyes, it feels like the perfect modern webification of the old-school zine style. That site feels punk rock to me. I have never seen anything else like it in the last ~15? years....

              Me too. To my old eyes, it feels like the perfect modern webification of the old-school zine style. That site feels punk rock to me. I have never seen anything else like it in the last ~15? years.

              They are totally mobile first, as they should be. The swiping UX was totally intuitive and yet so novel for me. The lead designer should be a VP of design at Apple :) Do you remember who that rock star is by chance?

              edit: also, what other layout/design should I look at if I like theoutline?

              2 votes
              1. Eva Link Parent
                Absolutely! They have a list of most of their staff, I think, though I've no idea who the design was made by, really (it may be credited somewhere; I haven't looked that far, granted). If you like...

                Absolutely!

                They have a list of most of their staff, I think, though I've no idea who the design was made by, really (it may be credited somewhere; I haven't looked that far, granted).

                If you like The Outline, probably just look through old zineish old sites; there aren't a tonne of really fascinating sites in the same vein, outside of really niche individual blogs.

                2 votes
  6. [7]
    Eva Link
    It claimed that Elliot Rodger was radicalised by image boards; whoever wrote this article is a liar at best.

    It claimed that Elliot Rodger was radicalised by image boards; whoever wrote this article is a liar at best.

    1. [5]
      alyaza Link Parent
      it... literally does not? it's a caption, for one thing, not even an actual part of the article's main text, and if you read it, it says "A makeshift memorial for the three UCSB engineering...

      it... literally does not? it's a caption, for one thing, not even an actual part of the article's main text, and if you read it, it says "A makeshift memorial for the three UCSB engineering students stabbed to death in Isla Vista, California by a man radicalised through chan-type sites" which is accurate. the forums rodgers browsed (PUAHate, Loveshy, /r/ForeverAlone) often did (and still do, where they exist) overlap heavily with incel/loveshy/PUA/MGTOW culture that exists on *chan boards. to say nothing of the fact that rodgers's rhetoric pretty typical of what you see on *chan boards:

      Full Asian men are disgustingly ugly and white girls would never go for you. You're just butthurt that you were born as an Asian piece of shit, so you lash out by linking these fake pictures. You even admit that you wish you were half white. You'll never be half-white and you'll never fulfill your dream of marrying a white woman. I suggest you jump off a bridge.
      [...]
      How could an inferior, ugly black boy be able to get a white girl and not me? I am beautiful, and I am half white myself. I am descended from British aristocracy. He is descended from slaves.

      13 votes
      1. [4]
        Eva Link Parent
        Two internet forums and a subreddit aren't "chan-type" sites at all. The article even goes out of its way to define what a chan is! A site based on an original Japanese design, a chan site (short...

        Two internet forums and a subreddit aren't "chan-type" sites at all.

        The article even goes out of its way to define what a chan is!

        A site based on an original Japanese design, a chan site (short for channel) is a site containing one or more often multiple topic-specific boards on which people can post threads containing images or text or reply to others’ threads. 4chan and 8chan are the two best-known, but there are many smaller ones which work in similar ways.
        

        It even specifies that there's a difference between "chan-types" and reddit.

        2 votes
        1. [3]
          alyaza Link Parent
          i mean, to put this into perspective you're at the absolute best going out of your way to blow up something which is at the most a minor error and using that to condemn the entire article here...

          Two internet forums and a subreddit aren't "chan-type" sites at all.

          i mean, to put this into perspective you're at the absolute best going out of your way to blow up something which is at the most a minor error and using that to condemn the entire article here which is silly; but, regardless, what's more likely is they're using that in a rhetorical sense with respect to the content you would find on them, not the format, given that the piece gives a great deal of focus to the content of imageboards, particularly 8chan.

          11 votes
          1. [2]
            Eva Link Parent
            It's not a minor error, it's a major one. The culture of imageboards vs. forums are entirely different, and the article goes out of its way to beat it into your head that the reason imageboards...

            It's not a minor error, it's a major one.

            The culture of imageboards vs. forums are entirely different, and the article goes out of its way to beat it into your head that the reason imageboards are so bad is because of the anonymity they bring, something that neither forums nor subreddits feature.

            
            
            It is the structure of a chan site itself that radicalises people. “The other anonymous users are guiding what’s socially acceptable, and the more and more you post on there you’re being affected by what’s acceptable and that changes you. Maybe you start posting Nazi memes as a joke… but you start to absorb those beliefs as your own, eventually,” Brennan says. “Anonymity makes people reveal themselves, but because there are other anonymous users – not just one person in a black box – it also changes what they reveal.”
            

            The content is largely different, too; 8chan's isn't static, while forums are, by design. (And not in the sense that they autodelete, in the sense that the entire reason 8chan became a thing was because it allowed arbitrary creation of anonymous boards.)

            And given the article focused more on culture than either content or format, it's a pretty blatantly large error.

            Not particularly blown out of proportion in the slightest; blaming someone for murders that they aren't responsible for is a shitty thing to do.

            2 votes
            1. Deimos Link Parent
              I'm removing the comments below this point, drop the bickering. Also, please don't quote by using code-blocks. Put a > in front to make a proper quote. The code-blocks keep all the text on a...

              I'm removing the comments below this point, drop the bickering.

              Also, please don't quote by using code-blocks. Put a > in front to make a proper quote. The code-blocks keep all the text on a single line and require horizontal scrolling, making the quote really ugly and difficult to read.

              12 votes
    2. hhh Link Parent
      they also state that 4chan has a knitting board (pretty minor mistake though)

      they also state that 4chan has a knitting board (pretty minor mistake though)

      2 votes