8chan and the issue of speech on the internet

The website known as 8chan has served as a cesspool of bigoted and racist hate mongering for a long time in which posters seemed to be competing to see who could come up with the most offensive stuff, all while arguing that they were doing it ironically, ‘for the lulz’ as the kids say these days. They operated with impunity under the shield of free speech and things were going well for them (in terms of reaching their target audience) until three mass shooters in Christchurch (targeting Muslims), Poway, California (targeting Jews), and at a Texas Walmart (targeting Hispanics) posted their hateful manifestos on the website.

This proved to be too much for those companies that had been at least indirectly supporting the site and the internet security firm Cloudflare withdrew its support, thus enabling hackers to invade the site, overwhelm it, and shut it down. The creator of 8chan, an American who lives in the Philippines and seems to covet notoriety, vows to bring the site back in some form with a new name 8kun and different security firm backing it.

The NPR radio program On the Media had a fascinating 17-minute segment tying together 8chan, the people behind it, as well as Q and the QAnon conspiracy theories that spread its message via that site, and the problem of balancing free speech and deplatforming on the internet.

It raises some crucial questions: should tech companies stymie sites like 8chan? Can 8chan stay dead? And what happens to the dark content that flourished on the site — content like the QAnon conspiracy, whose purveyor vowed to only release definitive content on 8chan, lest his narrative gets drowned out by that of impersonators?


  1. Jenora Feuer says

    It’s worth noting that 8chan was created during the heyday of Gamergate, when 4chan finally started enforcing policies against harassment and doxxing, along with child porn issues that were getting them into trouble.

    So, literally, 8chan consists of the people who were too awful for 4chan, and that’s not the highest of bars.

  2. says

    The definition of “free speech” you’re using is the american one, not one I agree with nor am willing to to live under (it or any us laws). Other countries have different standards and some have laughable laws (e.g. thell the Thai’s gebdthe ). I may have said this before, but I much prefer Canada’s standard which does not protect hate speech or incitement to violence, but still allows free speech.

    The UN and other international bodies should have thought ahead and created an internation standard for the internet that applies to anything posted from any country -- including words that would be illegal in the country where the poster said it. If it’s not written on paper or spoken aloud in public, it’s exempt.

  3. Holms says

    For all of the nastiness hosted on 8chan, there is one small redeeming feature: they also hosted some antifa / far left channels too, and afforded them the same privacy and anonymity as to the nasties.

  4. Mark Dowd says

    all while arguing that they were doing it ironically, ‘for the lulz’ as the kids say these days.

    If you fuck a goat ironically, you’re still a goat-fucker.

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