How the founder of 8chan went from creating the 'darkest reaches of the internet' while on psychedelic mushrooms to calling for it to be shut down
- Fredrick Brennan started the online image board 8chan in 2013 as a space for free speech, resulting in a website that has come to be known as one of the darkest corners of the internet.
- The site's uncensored nature - where anyone can post anonymously - has led it to become a platform for mass shooters to vocalize and spread their ideas. It's been linked to three mass shootings this year, including the one in El Paso, Texas that occurred on Saturday and left 20 people dead.
- Brennan, who says he came up for the idea for 8chan while on a psychedelic mushroom trip, has since called for the site to be shut down in interviews with The New York Times and The Washington Post.
- This represents a shift in perspective for Brennan, who said in 2015 that shutting down sites like 8chan might only worsen the situation.
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Computer programmer Fredrick Brennan started the online image board 8chan in 2013 as a space for uncensored speech, a place where anyone could anonymously post whatever they wanted without moderation. It didn't take long for the site to become known as one of the darkest corners of the internet - a haven for extremist and hateful content.
It's since become a platform for mass shooters to vocalize and spread their ideas, prompting Brennan to call for the site to be shuttered. "Shut the site down," Brennan said to The New York Times. "It's not doing the world any good. It's a complete negative to everybody except the users that are there. And you know what? It's a negative to them, too. They just don't realize it."
8chan has been linked to three mass shootings that have taken place this year, including the one that occurred in El Paso, Texas on Saturday that left 20 people dead. Prior to the shooting, a racist manifesto appeared on 8chan, which police believe was published by the suspected gunman. The attack was also celebrated on 8chan on Sunday, as The Washington Post reports.
"Once again, a terrorist used 8chan to spread his message as he knew people would save it and spread it," Brennan said to The Washington Post. "The board is a receptive audience for domestic terrorists."
Cloudflare, the cybersecurity company that protected 8chan, announced that it had terminated its relationship with the website, prompting it to go offline. However, 8chan's site administrator has announced plans to move to BitMitigate, the same company that protected The Daily Stormer after Cloudfare ended business with the neo-Nazi site in 2017, according to the BBC.