Follow the money

We’ve been castigating Twitter and Facebook for providing a permissive environment that fosters the growth of fascists and Nazis — and that absolutely is a problem that needs to be addressed — but there’s one major player on the Internet who hasn’t been confronted quite as much. Sure, Andrew Anglin’s Daily Stormer has been shut down multiple times and is constantly struggling to find a stable host, and yes, Gab got shut down for a while, but they keep bouncing back. But 8chan, which might well be the root source of the persistent infection, never seems to have a hiccup. It just keeps going and going and going, fostering a toxic troll culture that occasionally erupts out of its petri dish to poison other environments. How does it do that?

All we need to do is look at who covers 8chan’s payroll.

What’s 8chan’s secret? It can all be traced back to its owner, Jim Watkins and his company NT Technologies. Watkins has created a mostly self-contained system where he hosts the 8chan domain without the help of third parties. And it’s allowed 8chan to remain on solid footing while its contemporaries struggle. While Watkins couldn’t stop Google from delisting 8chan from its search results, people who wanted to find it still knew where to go.

But Watkins still needs an outside source of cash to pay for the servers, bandwidth, and staff that keep 8chan running. A significant source of the site’s funding is Amazon.

Fascinating. Who would have thought America’s richest man, a multi-billionaire whose company has ruthlessly stomped all over all competition, might be a negligent slumlord who enables a slimy underground to fester? Inconceivable.

But that’s where a significant fraction of 8chan’s income comes from. They’ve cut themselves off from the sources that even give a marginal fuck to policing their output, which means they are isolated from vulnerable dependencies, and are getting by on a revenue stream from selling audiobooks through Amazon. They’re peddling total crap, but it’s enough to get the trickle of cash they need to maintain the site.

The site’s videos star attractive Filipina women who deliver pro-Trump news in heavily accented English. And at a time when most news sites obsess over generating traffic from Facebook, The Goldwater largely ignores that platform. Instead, everything it does is catered to the trolls, alt-righters, Trump sh*tposters, and other anonymous members of the internet’s most deplorable message board, 8chan.

8chan is living on ads for one product, their cheesy audiobooks, that is sold through one outlet, Amazon. They can do this because Amazon don’t care. There have been other occasions when people have noticed that Amazon continues to support hate sites despite all protests. Amazon is only about the money.

Watkins’ selection of Amazon as his financial lifeline to the outside world is not an accident. The company does not run away from websites that others deem toxic. When thousands of advertisers abandoned Breitbart after the right-wing website featured racist categories like “black crime,” Amazon continued to run ads on the site.

Of course they put up a policy that tries to look benign, but it’s basically a cover story that they freely ignore.

According to the policies it puts up on its own website, Amazon prohibits the sale of items that “promote or contain materials or activity that is hateful, harassing, harmful, invasive of another’s privacy, abusive, or discriminatory (including on the basis of race, color, sex, religion, nationality, disability, sexual orientation, or age).” This would seem to rule out Breitbart and 8chan. But when asked about the apparent contradiction, the company did not respond to a request for comment.

You know they just say that so they can quickly yank out anything that gets the attention of the media and that might harm the reputation (that is, profit) of the company. Well, the media just noticed 8chan is funded by Amazon deals. I’d like to imagine they’d do a fast PR move to protect the company, but they’re so big they don’t care anymore.

Maybe it’s time to break them up so a certain venal plutocrat named Bezos would have to care.


  1. says

    Companies of the size of Amazon should not legaly be alowed to exist. Actualy companies above about 1000 workers should not be allowed to exist as privately owned, anywhere, because it concentrates too much power into to few hands and creates inevitably a “trickle up” economy.

    This article sums one of the reasons why I personaly did not buy and do not intend to buy a single item on Amazon.

  2. says

    I’d be willing to tolerate much larger companies, if they were true cooperatives. Capitalism allows a few individuals to exploit the work of tens of thousands, so it’s the system at fault.

  3. drst says

    Amazon just got dinged twice in short order by romance writers for a large-scale scam of republishing books by a couple of companies that would just slap a new title on the same book and market it as new, which gamed the Kindle Unlimited algorithm, and also the #copypasteCris saga. Their internal policing of content listed for sale is as fucked up as their selling algorithms.

  4. wzrd1 says

    There is worse available.
    Ever hear of FEDRAMP? It’s a federal government platform, which is largely Amazon hosted.
    What do you think would happen if their primary customer went away, on short notice, due to their supporting domestic terrorism?
    And due to CENTAUR logging requirements, traffic is recorded. It’s how Manning was convicted.
    I don’t give a first name, simply out of military custom and the precise time frame involved.
    Due to the legal constraints involved, largely time involved.