Facebook wrong about anonymity, says 4chan founder
Facebook’s founder Mark Zuckerberg is wrong to describe online anonymity as cowardice, according to Christopher Poole, the founder of 4chan, one of the web’s most infamous destinations.
Speaking at the South By Southwest conference in Austin, Texas, Poole said: “Anonymity is authenticity. It allows you to share in a completely unvarnished, raw way.” He said that Zuckerberg was “totally wrong” to equate online anonymity with cowardice.
4chan was set up in 2003 as a site for fans of Japanese comics to share images but swiftly became a place for sharing all kinds of images - the more humorous, bizarre and often tasteless the better. Many of the internet’s best known ‘memes’ - ideas or in-jokes that are swiftly spread among friends - originated on 4chan.
The website also has a more threatening side. The campaigning group Anonymous, whose hacking attacks in support of Wikileaks made headlines at the end of last year, originated within 4chan’s forums.
Poole said that online anonymity gave people, particularly young people, the room to make mistakes. He said: “To fail in an environment where you’re being identified by your real name is costly.”
He also argued that the true identity of users was not so important to 4chan because “we value content over creator”.
However, he acknowledged that some of the things posted on the site could be extreme. “I don’t recommend you go poking around without knowing what you’re clicking on,” he said.