4chan – Is 4chan Safe? Discover All to Know About it

4chan Logo
4chan Logo

4chan is a collection of completely anonymous, anything-goes boards. 4chan’s architecture and basic operation are not dissimilar to Reddit, Something Awful, or other large-scale Internet forums.

The site is divided into threads where users may debate various topics ranging from civet coffee to sex toys, and around 22 million people do so each month.

What is 4chan?

4chan is an imageboard website popular among teenage boys. According to official figures, the most common age group is individuals between the ages of 18 and 25.

There are, however, numerous personal accounts online of kids who utilise 4-chan. It began as a response to Japan’s 2chan and was used to discuss anime.

It currently features forums ranging from video games to pornographic content that are easily available to all site users. 4chan is also a hotbed of online memes, political movements, hacktivism, and cyber assaults.

As a result, it has been the subject of several media issues and may have an influence on your teen’s online safety.

In 2008, 4-chan creator Christopher Poole (left) attended a convention.

However, a few of factors distinguish 4chan as a forum.

For one thing, unlike Reddit, users are never required to create an account or choose a username – even if it is a pseudonymous one.

This implies that participants can say and do almost anything they want with just a distant danger of responsibility.

It also means you can’t communicate other users or form social relationships with them unless they expose their identify in some way. That’s unusual for a social network. In fact, a lot of sociologists have devoted time researching how it works.

To compound matters further, 4chan threads expire after a set length of time — less time for R-rated boards, more time for G or PG boards — lending a feeling of impermanence to the entire operation and implying that users seldom see the same item twice.

Few posts survive more than a few days before being removed from 4chan’s servers. Posts are grouped in reverse chronological order — albeit “ordered” may be an exaggeration. 4chan’s interface is purposefully and anachronistically simple, making it difficult for non-regular users to access.

How does 4chan work?

4chan users are not required to join up. All photographs and discussions can be shared in an anonymous manner.

When a person arrives at the website, they can select any of the boards.

A message will then appear saying that the content is exclusively for “mature” users, denying any damage on the boards, and suggesting that people read the guidelines.

While the site regulations say that 4chan is only for anyone above the age of 18, the term “mature” might be misinterpreted by others.

A adolescent, for example, may believe themselves mature enough to access the information regardless of whether they are a juvenile.

Users may then ‘Start a New Thread’ with a picture, remaining anonymous or entering a name.

After posting, other users can respond to the original post anonymously as well. Users’ IP addresses, however, are still logged and can be banned if site rules are breached. These prohibitions can be challenged.

Who uses 4chan?

According to the site’s statistics, the great majority of its visitors are young, college-educated guys who enjoy Japanese culture, video games, comic books, and technology.

The majority are from English-speaking nations such as the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia, but the site also receives significant traffic from Germany, Sweden, and France.

In late 2010, a 4chan member performed a (wholly unscientific) poll of other site users, which discovered, among other things, that most 4chan users do not discuss the site offline and that most users would not allow their children to join it.

The site’s founder advised users to take the poll with “a large grain of salt” since, because the site lives on anonymity, there’s no way to identify who uses it with any confidence.

Why is 4chan important/why should I care?

Three explanations:

For starters, 4chan was the initial breeding ground for a plethora of memes and behaviours that we now regard to be important to mainstream Internet culture.

Second, 4chan has been responsible for some of the most significant hoaxes, cyberbullying events, and Internet pranks in the last five years.

Third, Anonymous got its start on 4chan, and the hacktivist organisation is becoming a bigger participant in news stories ranging from Ferguson to the Steubenville rape.

In short, the list of things 4chan has provided the Internet is rather long.

But let’s start with the good:

1. LOLCats: images of cats with text put on them that are amusing.

2. Dusty the cat: a video of a mistreated cat in Oklahoma was put on YouTube; 4chan tracked out the pet’s owner and gave his information to authorities.

3. Advice animals: images of animals or people placed with traditional or archetypal captions

4. Rage comics: a kind of simplistic, line-drawn Web comics whose most well-known characters you may remember from memes.

5. Rickrolling: the practise of emailing someone a URL that actually, covertly, connects to Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up” music video.

6. Chocolate Rain: 4chan users flocked to Tay Zonday’s “Chocolate Rain” music video, propelling it to the top of the YouTube rankings and making it into a true meme.

Since then, other major musicians have covered it.

… as well as the negative:

1. Celebgate: the release of dozens of stolen celebrity nude images, which, while no longer visible on 4chan, are still available as downloaded torrents on the Internet.

2. Gamergate: an ongoing effort to uncover “corruption” in video game journalism, allegedly sparked by 4chan members.

Gamergate has now ruined the lives of countless female gamers and pundits, as well as sparked a bigger debate about how the gaming industry handles women.

3. The cyberbullying of Jessi Slaughter:  one of the first high-profile cases of cyberbullying, in which 4chan users sent death threats and calls to an 11-year-old girl who would later try suicide many times

4. Google- and poll-bombing: voting or searching for the same phrases in large numbers in order to damage an online vote or artificially make a topic trend. 4chan has successfully trended a swastika on Google.

5. Fake bomb threats: A large number of hoaxers have made mass bomb and shooting threats on 4chan, resulting in multiple arrests and evacuations.

6. #Cutforbieber: a Twitter hashtag encouraging young Beliebers to cut themselves to show their devotion to the musician.

7. #Leakforjlaw: a similar social media scam in which women were encouraged to share naked images in support of Jennifer Lawrence.

8. Bikini bridge: a fabricated beauty/fitness craze that urged women to drop enough weight to create a gap between their hip and pelvic bones; the concept, however fictitious, finally caught on among online eating disorder circles.

9. Apple Wave: a claimed “feature” of the iPhone 6 promoted on Twitter by 4chan members, in which individuals may charge their phones by microwaving them.

Needless to say, that is one of many hoaxes on 4chan.

10. Ebola-chan: a joking cartoon “mascot” for Ebola that became a hoax geared at vulnerable West Africans in the hands of certain particularly unscrupulous 4chan members.

The list goes on and on.

Doesn’t 4chan have any rules?

There are a few guidelines. Users are prohibited from breaking US law, including copyright laws, as well as publishing other people’s personal information, impersonating site administrators, or employing bots on the site.

Users may post racist, gory, or otherwise “grotesque” material on the board /b/. (We’ll get to that eventually.) 4-chan has “moderators” and “janitors” teams that may remove posts and ban members who submit unlawful content.

However, 4-chan is famously secretive about who moderates it — and how much. 4-chan appears to value secrecy as part of its culture.

In a FAQ, the site says that “there is no way for an end user to precisely estimate the level of moderating going place at any particular point in time.”

Is 4-chan Naturally evil?

That is not to say that 4-chan is intrinsically bad or that everything on the site is in some way twisted.

The good and the evil coexist on Reddit, Hacker News, and wherever else.

You can find message boards like /b/, which routinely post gore and other shock porn.

However, you will also hear folks discussing how to roast raw coffee beans or how to come out to their family as LGBT.

Cooking, fitness, fashion, technology, music, and math are among the board themes on   4-chan; there are also multiple boards dedicated to weaponry, “politically incorrect” conversation, and extreme — often scary — erotica.

A large portion of the site is dedicated to anime, manga, and other Japanese cultural products, a relic of the site’s inception in 2003.

When Christopher (“moot”) Poole founded 4-chan in October of that year, he relied heavily on the community on one of Something Awful’s anime forums. Poole, who was 15 at the time, is now in his mid-twenties.

So, where does the discussion of hoaxes, leaks, and other yucky 4-chan things originate from? 4-chan has 63 “boards,” or subforums.

Two of these, /b/ and /pol/, are chiefly responsible for 4-chan’s poor reputation.

/pol/, or “politically incorrect,” purports to debate current events and politics, but these discussions usually devolve into racist or sexist insults.

Of all, this isn’t that unlike than, say, The Washington Post’s comments section.

While The Washington Post employs personnel to ensure that the n-word and other ugliness do not circulate, /pol/ regularly does. This is where the “Ebola-chan” meme was born.

/b/, on the other hand, is a completely other species. The board acts as a sort of catch-all/release valve for all the rape porn, self-harm photos, and scary drawings of scantily dressed youngsters that aren’t permitted in other boards.

This is also by design:   4-chan officially prohibits trolling, bigotry, and horrific images everywhere on the site, but allows it at /b/.

Even /b/ isn’t completely bad — a thread posted just this morning disputes decent Netflix recommendations — but it’s still an incomprehensible jumble of the weird, the disgusting, and the plain bizarre.

How do 4chan in-jokes morph into major Internet trends?

In a nutshell, what occurs on 4-chan does not remain on 4-chan – at least not when it becomes popular.

In-jokes and other harmless ephemera tend to spread naturally across users’ various online networks and social media profiles.

(As I highlighted earlier this month, Celebrgate made its way into the public thanks to a Reddit/4chan member named John Meneses.)

However, 4-chan is frequently more aggressive in pushing its works on the people.

When individuals plan significant hoaxes or pranks, they frequently create bogus Twitter accounts and hashtags to publicise the narrative or get media attention.

They’re also skilled at using any site that reveals material based on popularity, such as Twitter, which spotlights “trending” subjects, as well as YouTube and Google Trends.

Because specific boards have been so successful at mobilising a large number of people to take action at the same time, 4chan has been credited for organising “some of the most high-profile collective actions in the history of the Internet.”

But… why would anyone do something like that?

To be honest, it’s tough to estimate 4chan’s motivations, especially because no one knows who uses the site and in what numbers.

However, based on many hours spent on the site, the people who disseminate hoaxes are frequently in it for the lulz — the schadenfreude, in other words.

The physical pleasure of laughing at someone else’s foolishness or cost.

Even a decade later, it’s clear that 4chan was started by a young guy — and, I assume, that many of its users still fall into that category, despite 4chan’s assurance that children aren’t permitted on the site.

(It’s revealing that when you Google “4chan users,” one of the top suggested keywords is “…are losers.”)

Of course, there are several additional reasons to use 4chan.

For others, 4chan’s radical anonymity serves as a kind of safe haven, a place to share interests or oddities that might be frowned upon elsewhere.

(It’s no accident that bronies have their own 4chan board.)

The frequency of harsh language and slurs — used so casually, even unintentionally — would appear to indicate that users just want a place to break all social boundaries.

In fact, Poole stated as much in a 2010 interview with the New York Times:

I get a lot of e-mails thanking me for providing them a place to vent, an outlet to express things they can’t say in real life with friends and coworkers — things they know are terrible but yet want to say.

However, there is no question that a large number of truly racist, mysoginistic, homophobic, pedophilic, and generally undesirable people go to 4chan as well.

And when those unsavoury folks meet with the pranksters and radical-anonymity proponents, the result is an explosive combination: a location where any type of mischief is quite feasible.

Is it safe for teens to use 4chan?

Due to the improper information widely accessible on the site and the threat to children’s online safety, 4chan is only for users above the age of 18.

Although there are rules for each board on the site, the most popular board, /b/ or ‘random,’ has less regulations. Indeed, it permits hate speech such as racism and transphobia, as well as explicit pornographic and obscene content.

According to the site rules, such content is not permitted outside of /b/. Some forums are labelled “worksafe,” which indicates that improper information is prohibited.

There are no parental controls or privacy options on 4chan. Users can opt to remain anonymous and visit any forums they like.

You may, however, implement parental restrictions on broadband and mobile networks to prevent adolescent access to 4chan.

There are also other sites like 8kun (previously 8chan) and 16chan. Content on 8chan is less controlled than on 4chan, making it much less safe for minors. 16chan resides anonymously on the dark web and contains unlawful and unmoderated content.

Why is 4chan Controversial?

Because of the material on the imageboard, 4chan has been at the centre of several disputes.

Notable examples include Gamergate, different cyber assaults, violent threats in America, and child pornography.

Concerns have been raised about the community’s encouragement of sexism and violence across the site, which is understandable.

Teens may continue to use the service despite the risks to their online safety. This might be due to the amusing memes that are exchanged throughout groups, or because the site’s inventor was a teenager himself when he started the site.

What is 8chan?

Other variations of 4chan exist, much as 4chan was founded as an English equivalent to Japan’s 2chan.

Some of them include more dangerous stuff, so be wary of these as well.

8kun (previously known as 8chan) was founded in reaction to those who considered 4chan had become overly censored.

8chan, unlike 4chan, does not appear in Google search results.

With less limits on what may be posted, violent and illegal content is allowed to remain on the web.

It even become a haven for criminals.

As a result, it was decommissioned in 2019 and replaced with 8kun, which has the same purpose of little moderation.

Users on 8kun, often known as infinitechan, may establish their own boards on any topic. Many 8chan/8kun organisations are viewed as a breeding ground for violent crimes and hate groups, particularly in the United States.

Other variants to be aware of:

  • 2chan/2channel/2ch: The first imageboard was designed so that members may openly discuss anime without fear of censorship or moderation. It was invented in 1999 and is still mostly used in Japan today.
  • 4channel: a blatant replica of 4chan that is marketed as acceptable for work. However, regardless of whatever board viewers click on, the same caution regarding explicit content remains. Its resemblance to the original might cause misunderstanding.
  • 16chan: accessible only on the dark web, its founder and users are nameless. 16chan, like many other corners of the dark web, hosts harmful and unlawful information.

While 4chan.com may be restricted on some IP addresses, it’s crucial to be aware of the workarounds that tech-savvy youths may employ.

These might involve experimenting with other domain suffixes and installing VPNs.

FAQs

Why did 4chan shut down?

Nishimura said in a series of articles that the separation was caused by 4chan being banned by most advertising businesses, and that the new 4channel domain would allow the site to receive adverts from conventional ad suppliers.

What does B stand for 4chan?

/b/ is one of the 4chan boards with an NSFW rating.

As a result, users may post NSFW stuff on /b/ while 4chan administrators may prohibit similar postings on other boards.

Is 4chan safe?

Due to the improper information widely accessible on the site and the threat to children’s online safety, 4chan is only for users above the age of 18.

Although there are rules for each board on the site, the most popular board, /b/ or ‘random,’ has less regulations.

How do I access my 4chan boards?

Visit www.4chan.org. From the main page, you may choose any board.

Before you may see any board, you must first agree to the site’s disclaimer.

When you open a board, you’ll see that all the semi-random names for 4chan boards are posted horizontally at the top of the site.

4chan vs Reddit – How is 4chan different from Reddit?

However, a couple of factors distinguish 4chan as a forum.

For one thing, unlike Reddit, users are never required to create an account or choose a username – even if it is a pseudonymous one.

This implies that participants can say and do almost anything they want with just a distant danger of responsibility.

Conclusion

4chan is a forum; there is nothing strange or intriguing about it.

It’s basically a forum with no names, few regulations, and few repercussions, which (a) is the philosophical opposite of almost every other major social property and (b) means people may (and do!) say whatever they want.

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