4chan's misfortune a blessing for the rest of us

What could be described as one of the most ‘wretched hives of scum and villainy’ on the internet is on death's doorstep.

4Chan closing its site?
Credit: flickr/Doc Searls

It's not hard to find hate on the internet -- most of the time you just have to look at the comments section attached to just about any article. The article topic never seems to matter -- sexism, racism, homophobia, transphobia and any other kind of bigotry you can imagine are all lobbed with equal gusto at lifestyle and news articles as they are at stories that tackle feminism, race, gender and sex. It's even worse if you happen to be a woman and have an opinion on the internet. So, I avoid reading the comments.

I also avoid Reddit, especially after what I interpreted as their pushing Ellen Pao over the 'glass cliff,' and even though they shut down many of the more offensive, hateful subReddits.

That brings me to 4chan. Or what's left of it -- it appears the site is having some, uh, financial difficulties. Pardon me while I wipe away the tears.

"For those lucky enough not to know, let me explain: 4chan is one of the most notoriously sexist and racist sites on the internet, and a frequent staging ground for the harassment of women on social media sites like Twitter.

4chan boasted that it had 20 million users to Inc. Magazine in 2015. There are only a handful of rules on 4chan: You cannot post child pornography, for example, and you can't discuss Gamergate. Almost everything else is unmoderated, including posting non-consensual sexual imagery, threatening to kill people, and even hacking private citizens' data and releasing it," says Brianna Wu, head of development at Giant Spacekat and an outspoken proponent of women in tech, who's been in the crosshairs of the Gamergate "movement."

It turns out that advertisers just don't want to pay to promote their products on a site known mainly for its obsession with hating and shaming just about everyone who's not a white, cis-gendered male. And attempts to solicit funds from users to keep the site running haven't been successful.

I'm hopeful that by the end of October, 4chan and its community of hate will be gone, though I'm resigned to the fact that the sexism, racism and bigotry will live on. But at least there will be one less gathering place for it.

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