OK, we have a full slate for you today. I’ve got a couple news items I want to hit, then we’ll also have another Jack Outis editorial this afternoon. The first thing i want to talk about today is 4chan. If you’ll recall, moot has been looking for someone to sell the site to all year long. He said as much in his farewell live stream back in the winter. Well, today, the deal with the new overlord was finalized. In a funny twist, the new owner is the same guy who inspired moot to start 4chan in the first place. His name is Hiroyuki Nishimura, the man behind 2channel, the Japanese image board behemoth.
Apparently the deal has been in the works for a while, according to my friends who follow this sort of thing more closely than I do. But, it was finalized today, and the media is treating it as a new announcement. So, I will as well. From The New York Times:
4chan, an anonymous message board founded by Christopher Poole in 2003, has been home to a veritable smorgasbord of everything the web has to offer. With posts on the site lasting only a matter of days or even hours before they are deleted, the message board has been described as the collective id of the Internet, home to hardcore pornography, hardcore cooking tips and everything in between.
Now Mr. Poole is letting go of 4chan after more than a decade at its helm. Mr. Poole announced on Monday that he has sold 4chan to Hiroyuki Nishimura, a pioneer of Japanese web culture and founder of 2Channel, an early anonymous online message board…
“Hiroyuki is literally the only person in the world with as much if not more experience than myself in running an anonymous, large destination community that serves tens of millions of people,” Mr. Poole said in an interview. “He’s the great-grandfather of all of this.”
The deal (for an undisclosed sum) makes great sense, in so far as it’s sensible that anyone would want to actually own 4chan. Nishimura is the original founder of 2channel, a large anonymous Japanese online community, and 4chan’s inspiration. So this isn’t so much of an acquisition as it is a spiritual homecoming. It also means 4chan’s laissez-fair, let’s-all-cum-on-anime-figurines-and-phone-in-bomb-threats-to-high-schools ethos probably won’t change—in a 2008 profile in Wired, Nishimura appeared as committed as Moot to letting bad shit happen on his website:
Nishimura has lost about 50 lawsuits and owes millions of dollars in penalties, which he has no intention of paying. “If the verdict mandates deleting things, I’ll do it,” he says. “I just haven’t complied with demands to pay money. Would a cell phone carrier feel responsible when somebody receives a threatening phone call?”
Most 4chan users are happy with the new owner, and after reading statements like that, I would have to agree. In fact, this might actually be a marked improvement from moot’s term as admin of the site. We’ll see what happens, but this is much better than a scumbag like Nick Denton owning the place (he was a rumored suitor, at one point). It’s better than some big American company owning the place as well. So, I’m pretty optimistic about the purchase. Let me know what you think, and if you’re as upbeat on this as I am. I’m going to go post another couple news hits, then move on to the editorial.
UPDATE: OK, so everyone is not happy lol…
Since Feb 19 2014, however, a conflict between Hiroyuki Nishimura (the founder of 2channel and, until recently, its manager) and his business partner Jim Watkins (an ex-U.S Army commander) regarding its administration and ownership suddenly became clear.
Consequently, Mr Watkins secured the domain name, administrative rights and everything by exploiting his status as a 2channel administrator. He then expelled Nishimura from the site, and now maintains it himself.
Through this internal strife, the existence of a paid service to delete postings of 2channel was uncovered on April 2, by a sudden announcement from Hiroyuki’s business partner, Mr Uchiyama, Hotlink, Inc’s president. Mr. Uchiyama’s company, Hotlink, has been tied up with 2channel in an exclusive contract, and offered to monitor and delete negative threads and comments about its customers.
And it was detected that among its customers was listed Japan’s ruling government party, the LDP. This information was uncovered by anonymous 2channel users. In fact, this privileged access to delete opinions was not widely known by internet users, and caused considerable alarm.