GEORGE SOROS IS ANGRY OVER ONLINE ANONYMOUS MESSAGE BOARDS LIKE 8CHAN!
Online message boards that allow anonymous posting – including 4chan, 8chan, Reddit, and AnonIB – tend to make headlines mainly when users illegally share private photos of high-profile women. But such photo sharing is just part of the relentless abuse that these sites constantly allow and enable.
On a daily basis, users of these message boards target women, people of color, activists, members of the media, and vulnerable communities like undocumented immigrants by orchestrating online harassment campaigns, which can involve illegal activities like hacking and publishing personal information and images. The sites are often also the origin of unsubstantiated speculation, which can make its way to fake news purveyors and hyperpartisan blogs that push misinformation, sometimes causing dangerous real-life consequences.
The actor Emma Watson was one of the victims of a recent illegal photo-sharing scandal, in which alleged personal photos were widely circulated on Reddit and 4chan. Weeks before, reports had revealed that members of the armed forces were involved in sharing “nude photographs of women, including fellow Marines – some taken without their knowledge” through the anonymous posting site AnonIB, which was also implicated in the publication of hacked personal photos of a number of celebrities, including Jennifer Lawrence, in 2014.
The cases involving celebrities and members of prominent military institutions are widely reported, but their treatment is just one part of the picture. These sites enable victimization of other individuals on a daily basis – often as part of orchestrated and politically motivated harassment campaigns. Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter David Cay Johnston was the victim of doxxing – the publication of personal information like phone numbers and addresses with the intent of enabling intimidation and harassment – on 8chan following his reporting on President Donald Trump’s 2005 tax documents. Anonymous users on 4chan organized an effort to target undocumented immigrants, encouraging others to trick Twitter users into outing themselves as undocumented so they could “report” them to the authorities for deportation. Muslim activist Linda Sarsour, who has been repeatedly defamed on these sites, was recently smeared on 4chan as an “Islamist using the flag of feminism to subvert western women and entice them into supporting sharia law.”
The forums have also been at the epicenter of unsubstantiated speculation that has been weaponized by fake news purveyors, in some cases with dangerous real-life consequences and negative impact on real people.
While women aren't the only victims, misogyny is perniciously at the center of many of the posts on these forums. As reported by Gawker, message boards like 4chan, 8chan – which was launched as a response to perceived censorship on 4chan and became a similar, but more anarchic, platform – and AnonIB serve as a sanctuary where “angry, anonymous young men can dance out their anger against women.”