4chan – Today on the internet the synonym for anonymity is VPN , an acronym for Virtual Private Network, literally “virtual private connection” in Italian. However, about ten years ago things were a little different. Among the many sites that guaranteed anonymity, there was one that managed to stand out above all: 4chan , a project born in 2003 from the mind of a 15-year-old boy.
Throughout its history, 4chan gave birth to the Anonymous movement, was fertile ground for the disinformation campaign that contributed to the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States of America, and hosted the first memes in the history of the Internet and has often been associated with issues such as child pornography and racism.
In Italy it only became popular in 2014, 11 years after its birth, due to the publication of stolen photos of American actresses and singers.
In this article we will explain what 4chan is and how to use it .
What is 4chan
4chan is an imageboard site , that is, a web portal based on the publication of images. It stands out from other sites for the anonymity guaranteed to its users, for the possibility of publishing new photos without registering an account and for the almost absence of moderation .
The birth of 4chan dates back to 2003 , at the hands of 15-year-old Christopher Poole . For his new digital creature, Poole has never made a secret of being inspired by two of his favorite sites: 2channel (now 5channel) and The Something Awful, respectively the largest forum in Japan and “one of the best sites in the world that have shaped the Internet as we know it today” .
The topics covered are numerous. If at the beginning the focus was on anime , after a few years users could discuss a series of very different topics: from television to sport, from travel to cars, but also weapons and adult content .
Combining the freedom to upload any type of content with the total absence of moderation has led 4chan to deal with various types of problems. One of the major scandals to hit the platform was Gamergate , a harassment campaign that focused on sexism in video game culture and initially targeted developer Zoe Quinn in 2013.
The aftermath of Gamergate pushed Christopher Poole to leave 4chan. In September 2015, Hiroyuki Nishimura , administrator of 2channel between 1999 and 2014, the year in which he lost control of the domain due to various financial difficulties, arrived in his place .
A new social network is also spreading here, becoming the phenomenon of the moment, BeReal. (yes, it has a period in the name, although it is often omitted).
Economic problems which also arose in his new adventure, forced him to divide 4chan into two separate domains: 4channel.org and 4chan.org . The first domain presents the “clean” sections of the project, from which it is possible to generate profit, while the second remains the controversial portal as always, even if less dangerous than many years ago.
Today 4chan is a platform with over 22 million unique users per month , aged between 18 and 34. There is no shortage of “boards” on important social issues, such as the section dedicated to the LGBT community, but it is also true that if at the beginning the site mostly hosted users who denounced social injustices, today it is frequented in most cases by extremists of the right.
How to use 4chan
The official 4chan.org website features graphics that closely resemble the most popular forums of the late 1990s and early 2000s. As soon as you connect, you can read the message which summarizes the spirit of the project: “What is 4chan?” . The advice is to consult the regulations before inserting any post and to read the FAQ , so as to avoid a possible ban due to the publication of unauthorized content.
The first two rules of today’s 4chan are: do not upload, post, discuss, request or link anything that violates the law of your country or the United States of America; please stop immediately and do not continue to access the site if you are under 18 years of age. The third rule concerns the nature of the posts published: among other things, it is forbidden to post racist and child pornography content.
Once you have read the rules, you are ready to consult the sections you like. Under “Boards” there are all the community discussion topics.
To enter, simply click on one of the links and press the “Accept” button to accept the platform’s disclaimer.
For our test we chose the “Travel” board , identified with /trv/ . The initial message of the discussion contains a sort of presentation and some practical advice on how to behave.
To open a new thread, simply press on “Start a New Thread” at the top center.
The next step is to complete the required fields: “Name” (Anonymous is set by default), “Options” , “Subject” , “Comment” , “Verification” (via RE-CAPTCHA) and “File” (the maximum weight of the file is 8 MB and cannot be larger than 10,000×10,000 pixels. Finally, press “Post” to publish the new thread.
Given the nature of the platform and its history, the advice is not to blindly trust users (to put it mildly) nor to click on the links in the various discussions, even when you believe that there are no imminent dangers.
If desired, you can then change the way the boards are displayed . The default one is titled “OP” (Original Post) and presents the original posts with the best replies. The “Catalog” option instead shows a gallery of posts without replies, while “Archive” a list of discussions closed in the last 3 days.
Finally, we invite you to keep the filter set to “Show Worksafe Content Only” (active by default) via the “options” filter located next to the “Popular Threads” section .
This way the site will only show safe content.
And that’s really all, our in-depth look at 4chan ends here. Have you already had the chance to try it? What are your opinions on this?