It is a message board that lets people have diverse opinions and freely interact with one another. This site was found by a programmer, Fredrick Brennon, popularly known as ‘Hotwheels”. He introduced this site as he was frustrated with a similar place called 4chan. 8chan was also named 8kun recently. While the site is not viewed when searched on google, it still happens to be in the top 5000 websites worldwide through a report from internet ranking company Alexa.
8chan’s ownership was later shifted to Jim Watkins, who was a US Army veteran. Recently, through Jim Watkins, 8chan’s administration was moved to Ron Watkins, his son.
About Ron Watkins
Ron Watkins is an American Conspiracy theorist and also an avid Trump supporter. It is believed that Watkins was the “Q” in QAnon’s theory. The Founder of 8chan, Fredrick Brennan, said in an article in 2020, “I, definitely, 100 percent believe that Q either knows Jim or Ron Watkins or was hired by Jim or Ron Watkins.”
It was known ‘Q’ initially because both the Watkins denied having known this personality. Both Watkins in an interview said, “It was three years of intelligence training, teaching normies how to do intelligence work. It was basically what I was doing anonymously before, but never as Q.”
They also corrected themselves by saying, “Never as Q. I promise. Because I am not Q, and I never was”
8chan and Watkins
8chan was not only an imageboard site but also was in headlines due to the notorious nature of its users. It gained a lot of controversies and can in negative light. It was reported that within months of its introduction, site 8chan had destructive repercussions. This site promoted hatred, racism, sexism, harassment, and many other menacing crimes. The users of 8chan took undue advantage of the free speech on this site, making heinous crimes look normal. Although the site has a single global rule which says, “Do not post, request or link to any content that is illegal in the United States of America and do not create boards with the sole purpose of posting or spreading such content.”
The Gamergate campaign of 2014 led to the online harassment of developer Zoe Quinn. This online harassment began after the release of the game Depression quest, which was based on Quinn’s experience with depression herself. With this, Quinn was subject to massive death and rape threats. All this was getting related to politicizing the gamer culture. This online harassment later turned into hatred towards females with opposing opinions.
There were also reports about many sexualized child pictures getting posted. This site was becoming the host to child pornography and sexual harassment with each passing day.
Brennan was reported saying that he is aware of paedophilic content on 8chan but believes in the inevitability of such content as a side effect of free speech.
At the start of this year, the destruction was still under control until March when an 8chan user, Brenton Harrison Tarrant, posted a link using the site, which opened to a Facebook live feed showing an anti-immigrant manifesto. In this live feed, a massive shootout was happening at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. This manifesto led to the killing of 51 people while injuring 50. This was heavily shared on different sites making this world an extremely unsafe space to live in.
After this attack, many people requested and many outraged to shut down this site as it was considered the host to these attacks. The more prominent streaming apps like youtube and Twitter ensured that the video didn’t spread further as the violence was highly unwatchable. Also, by applying this kind of violence, such crimes increase in an unexplainable manner.
Despite all the outrage and mentions to shut 8chan down, it was still running. There was no possible conclusion about who was responsible and who would address it as Fredrick Brennan shifted the ownership to Jim Watkins in 2015. Still, Brennan showed his disappointment about the shooting, which led to the death of many.
Ron Watkins gave higher focus to the free speech of the country’s people and didn’t show any signs of disregard of the happening. He also categorically stated that the site would remain life, no matter what, leaving Cloudfare in a difficult position.
Cloudflare denied the server access to 8chan. With this, Cloudfare also introduced a content-neutral policy to control the information that can be posted on the site. All this led to shutting down the outrage and the demand of people to shut down 8chan.
Again, the anger outburst, John Earnest tried to live-stream himself while shooting worshippers at California’s Poway synagogue. Another incident occurred in El Paso, Texas, killing 22 people at the Walmart and leaving 24 injured.
“America’s ongoing problem with mass violence – and the difficulty we are having as a country in quelling it – is leading many to look to the online forums used by the perpetrators,” told a spokesperson to The New Economy.
The shutdown of the imageboard site, 8chan.
Hours after this massive shooting, Cloudfare decided to its hand. The site, 8chan, was given a termination notice by Cloudfare’s Prince. Prince also said, “The rationale is simple: they have proven themselves to be lawless, and that lawlessness has caused multiple tragic deaths.” He further stated, “Even if 8chan may not have violated the letter of the law in refusing to moderate their hate-filled community, they have created an environment that revels in violating its spirit.”