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>The concept of freedom of speech falls apart if universally reprehensible speech is allowed to be publicaly espoused without being firmly challenged. Forums like 8chan and 4chan effectively incubate hate speech by providing a safe space for anonymized, like-minded individuals to congregate, espouse their basest thoughts and feelings and receive gratification for it -all without challenge. Moderate people are repulsed by such forums and the quantity of hate-speech they generate, which further compounds the negative feedback loop.

These boards do more than allow this hate to fester. They allow hate to grow as they become a recruiting ground that can radicalize people who never would have fallen into this mindset without these boards. 8chan might be compartmentalized in a way that allows it to become an echo chamber of hate, but it also is highly connect to boards about general topics like video games, TV, and movies. This normalizes the hate and it becomes just another thing to talk about.

I would bet a small minority of people who spew hateful things on 8chan sought the site out because of their own hate. Maybe they went there to talk about the new Call of Duty game. Before too long they are ingrained in the whole Gamergate mindset. Then they eventual start hanging out on /pol and before you know it they are a full fledged white nationalist. (A similar thing has been reported about Youtube's recommendation algorithm [1]) This wouldn't happen if the hateful sections of 8chan were sectioned off into their own site. No one accidentally stumbles upon The Daily Stormer and becomes a white nationalist. Just visiting that site genuinely requires a predilection towards hate and a sympathetic ear to white nationalism.

[1] - https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/06/08/technology/yo...




> These boards do more than allow this hate to fester. They allow hate to grow as they become a recruiting ground that can radicalize people who never would have fallen into this mindset without these boards.

This is a common narrative, but it depends on an empirical question of whether hate spreads online and whether this motivates action. Fortunately, studies suggest that online talk does not motivate action:

https://www.rand.org/randeurope/research/projects/internet-a...

To summarize: the internet does not accelerate the process of radicalization, it does not provide opportunities to self-radicalize, and it does not allow radicalization without physical contact with other radicals. So the empirical evidence does not entirely agree with your characterization of 8chan's role in radicalization.


I haven't read the full paper yet, but the 'Executive summary' section seems quite explicit that the findings relate to the internet specifically; that is, does "the internet" increase radicalization as opposed to other non-internet venues?

But that isn't the point you're replying to; the point you're replying to is about "these boards" (ie. these venues), and makes no mention of their internet-ness being a factor.

The report, crucially, does therefore not seem to contradict the post you're replying to, as that post is about radicalization in mixed-topic venues in general; this one just happens to be on the internet.


What is a "mixed topic venue", precisely, that you would distinguish it from the internet or other media? Frankly, the internet is the ultimate mixed topic venue IMO.

Furthermore, it seems pretty clear that the OP was specifically referring to online boards, and this forms the context of pretty much this entire thread and every discussion of this topic here and elsewhere about the spread of hate online.


A mixed-topic venue is precisely what they described:

> 8chan might be compartmentalized in a way that allows it to become an echo chamber of hate, but it also is highly connect to boards about general topics like video games, TV, and movies.

Nowhere in the OP is "the internet" specifically mentioned as a factor. It's all about the general concept of mixing it into other topics to make it palatable (which is precisely how radicalization usually works online and offline, see also eg. biker gangs), and an online message board just happens to be the context in this particular case.


OP here, just chiming in to say that you are exactly right on my point and what my objection would be to that study. There is a distinction between the Internet and specific sites like 4chan, 8chan, Reddit, Youtube, etc. You can accidentally stumble onto hate on those sites. The hate there is both normalized due to the presence of that other content and can be framed in an enticing and seemingly logical way. That isn't true for the Internet at large. To repeat myself, you can't really stumble on to the Daily Stormer or be accidentally recruited into their ranks. The NYT's article I linked to in my first post details how that type of accidental radicalization can happen on Youtube.

And like you said, there is nothing internet specific about this distinction. The same thing applies if white nationalists are recruiting in the physical world. There is a lot more potential for recruiting new members at the local bar than their is at a KKK rally. I think some of us just want the bar owner to stop allowing those white supremacists to use the bar as a recruiting ground because they are turning violent.


8chan incubated hate speech because no one challenged hate speech on 8chan. 8chan welcomed everyone, but everyone ignored 8chan.

>The concept of freedom of speech falls apart if universally reprehensible speech is allowed to be publicaly espoused without being firmly challenged. Forums like 8chan and 4chan effectively incubate hate speech by providing a safe space for anonymized, like-minded individuals to congregate, espouse their basest thoughts and feelings and receive gratification for it -all without challenge.


I've called out hate speech on 4chan and 8chan many times before. I've gotten called an "SJW cuck" a lot, and others doubled-down in posting shit gleefully when they saw their shit "triggered the libs". That was the fun part to them. To someone like me who isn't there just to challenge people, it's exasperating. I gave up and they didn't.

I think certain site structures encourage different kinds of discussion. Imagine the most extreme possibility: a site that automatically hides posts that the majority would agree with after reading, and gives points to and highlights bombastic posts. You're not going to get good discussion out of this, no matter how much you try to convince people that it would be good for society if they visited this site and tried to challenge people there.

I think imageboards like 4chan and 8chan accidentally approximate this. They bump threads to the top on every reply, so threads that trigger flame wars are incentivized. The lack of names means no one will call you out if you flip-flop opinions, so you're free to flip-flop to whatever opinion will trigger the most people, which users will do in order to make successful threads.

After a few cycles of this, normal people ("normies") either leave or adapt themselves to fit in, so the remaining users have to amp up their ridiculousness to make threads that are bombastic to the new crowd. Users get used to having to make their opinions more extreme to get noticed. I think this then causes them to flock to threads that they can tell are bombastic to normies as a way to self-reaffirm their own tendency toward making bombastic threads. If you ever try to argue for the normie opinion on a subject, it "outs" yourself as someone who isn't a true user, as someone who isn't purposefully ratcheting their opinions up into offensiveness as the site encourages.

Years ago, I helped run a once-popular imageboard dedicated to a fandom, and its level of dysfunction was legendary. A big part of that probably came from the userbase's overlap with 4chan, but the way problems regularly cropped up in common interactions even in topics and groups of users with little 4chan overlap made me skeptical of the structure itself. It helped a lot being able to see which anonymous users made which posts and see how common it was for people to sock-puppet or radically re-work their opinions in their next thread.


Regarding the "bumping" mechanism and its effect on "normies": isn't almost every forum like this? I can't think of a forum that doesn't shift threads with recent posts to the top. This isn't limited to 4chan or 8chan, so I think it's unfair to single them out as encouraging extreme views.

Regarding anonymity: perhaps anonymity has the opposite effect, allowing people to be more willing to have thoughtful discussions and change their minds, instead of having to stick to their guns for fear of losing face. Perhaps the freedom of anonymity allowed people to say what they always wanted to say but couldn't because they feared for their reputation.

All of which is not to say that 4chan and 8chan don't contain hate speech and other forms of expression deemed unacceptable in broader society. But perhaps the reason people say such things and talk in those ways isn't because of the forum itself, but because of the state that political discourse has devolved to these days. 4chan and 8chan are nothing more than fora at the end of the day; and if they're blocked, people will simply move to continue the conversation (just like they moved from 4chan to 8chan in the first place).


Reddit and HN don't bump threads on activity. HN actually penalizes threads with too much activity. The anonymity is a big factor too; I think it's the combination that helps make things bad. It could also has to do with the way replies are shown: Reddit and HN's branching style causes discussions to fork off in a hundred different directions and focus on different details. Classic bulletin board forums make it difficult to really follow a thread as it gets too busy as you have to click and wait to load a new page for every 10 or so posts. Imageboards often show replies in a single quickly-scrollable auto-updating page in a very compact manner. This might make bandwagon effects much easier.

Maybe I'm wrong about how the specific details play into it exactly, but I think the differences between site structures is not considered nearly enough when trying to understand the differences between site cultures. I hope it's apparent to most that Reddit+HN, classic forums, Twitter, and imageboards each strongly influence discussions to work in different ways, and I don't think it's just because of their different communities. I think if you swap out the people or make multiple sites with the same structure, you see that each structure reinforces its own set of behaviors.

>perhaps anonymity has the opposite effect, allowing people to be more willing to have thoughtful discussions and change their minds, instead of having to stick to their guns for fear of losing face.

I can see the logic of that, but the "thoughtful" part has rarely been my experience on any anonymous places. I think people are more willing to change their minds, but in the direction of being more willing to change their mind to follow the "hivemind"/community or change their mind in a way that's more able to provoke others.


Do you have a blog with more insight?


>8chan welcomed everyone, but everyone ignored 8chan.

That's not true, the community actively tries to keep out "normies" by posting pictures of disfigured corpses or other disturbing imagery and sabotaging the posts that challenge their agenda through spam and trolling.

They even have a guide how to do that, the following page is linked from the homepage at 8chan: https://cryptome.org/2012/07/gent-forum-spies.htm


People did challenged hate speech on 8chan. What happened is that those who challenged hate speech on 8chan lost in following fights. One factor is that chan structure favors bad-faith actors and arguments, favoring inflammatory emotional ones. But the other fact is that bad-faith actors and arguments of the other side lost too.


It's unfortunate that IDs were not applied across the chans, as they went a long way to solving this issue (a single poster was tagged with a consistent identifier) without compromising the main point of anonymous imageboards (no persistent author identity was attached to messages, post contents stood on their own merits only).

Still possible to subvert, but harder to do so, and it made client-side blocking of particular ids fairly simple.

Tripcodes fail in this regard, as they are elective.


It's not a question of merely "allowing" hatred to grow, as though it were so much yeast on the wind, but of propagating the deliberate inculcation of white supremacism and misogyny, a campaign orchestrated by long-standing institutions of social control.


What are you on about? 8chan is pretty damn grassroots. The people on /pol/ definitely don't see themselves as backed by the institutions of social control; in their mythology, the insitutions of social control (eg. the mainstream media, Silicon Valley, banks) are all left-wing, "pozzed", and their enemies. They consider themselves a hated minority... because they are. What big institutions are backing 8chan?!


> In their mythology, the insitutions of social control (eg. the mainstream media, Silicon Valley, banks) are all left-wing

This is a classic, authoritarian tactic of misdirection.

Here's a report on some of the forces at play:

1. https://datasociety.net/output/media-manipulation-and-disinf...

By the way, they're wrong—although not alone—in thinking that Silicon Valley is "left-wing". This is a convenient smoke-screen, as illuminated here:

1. http://www.metamute.org/editorial/articles/californian-ideol...

I am not sure why we should put much stock in the explicit mythology of a troll army.


I don't want to appear to defend 8chan here - but I don't think your critique is apt.

For one, the people on 8chan are absolutely a hated minority. That's largely why they're getting banned from the internet. Mainstream figures aren't coming out in favor of 8chan, they're calling for it's dissolution. Saying you visit or enjoy 8chan in polite company would likely be a faux pas if anyone even knew what you were talking about.

Of course, pretending to be a hated minority may be a rhetorical tactic - but that doesn't make it untrue. The Westborough Baptist Church may have experienced enhanced camaraderie from being almost universally reviled - but that doesn't mean they weren't, in fact, almost universally reviled.

"Authoritarian" also seems like a poor description. The boards are anti authoritarian in that they have lax moderation. There isn't a punishment for unwanted opinions - you can't be downvoted or shadowbanned. People can't even judge your future posts by the content of your previous posts because everyone is anonymous and without a post history. Banning is by ip only, and easily avoided, and there aren't even accounts to lose. 8chan is much more anarchic than authoritarian. I'm making that claim based on their structure rather than their political ideology.

The idea that Silicon Valley is not left wing also strikes me as highly suspect. For example, in the last Presidential election Clinton received 95% of Silicon Valley donations compared to 4% for Trump [1]. There are other, similar reports, for specific companies and different elections, but everything I've seen slowed they skew heavily left.

I'm aware that there are conceptions of "left wing" where Clinton wouldn't really count as left wing, but so long as we are discussing American politics I don't think those alternate conceptions are relevant. Clinton is clearly further left than Trump.

1 - https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/nearly-all-of-silicon-v...


> 8chan are absolutely a hated minority

They're almost ubiquitously unknown.

> they have lax moderation

I refer to the boards ideological content, not its own governance, although there are arguments to be made that informal, social governance employs Patriarchal tropes to keep users in line.

> so long as we are discussing American politics

We're not. We're discussing an international propagandist forum.

> I don't think those alternate conceptions are relevant. Clinton is clearly further left than Trump.

The USA has never had a "Leftist" administration in any meaningful sense.

Edit: your attitude strikes me as suspiciously apologetic on behalf of an atrocious, violent reactionary movement. If this is due to naivete, I hope the previous ly cited texts can alleviate it. If this is due to your own Patriarchal reactionary bent, we're done; I've no reason to spar with a dishonest partner.


So many unexamined assumptions here. I sort of understand the appeal of channers just calling folks like yourself a nasty name and checking out rather than spending every discussion parsing out "the patriarchy" and what true leftism is. It gets exhausting.


> calling folks like yourself a nasty name and checking out

You forget; they also murder indiscriminately. You're acting callous and self-righteous; it's not hard for me to imagine you "understand" Fascism's appeal, a la Matt Bors' reluctant Nazi.

https://images.dailykos.com/images/574802/large/1350.png?153...


That's a goofy thing to say. There are millions of 4chan users, and at least hundreds of thousands of 8chan users and visitors. They don't "murder indiscriminately" any more than Twitter users do.

And gee, wow, you posted a comic where the author's self-insert tries to talk to a totally crazy and unreasonable Drumpf Nazi, who is a blatant hypocrite and makes a fool of himself, confirming your political biases and allowing you to impute terrible motives to millions! How will we ever recover?


In the context of the US, it doesn't matter what the 'left' in terms of the rest of the world is. If you're gonna argue and accuse someone of having a 'patriarchal reactionary bent' and being dishonest, perhaps be honest and genuine yourself.


A summary of my earlier response is that 8chan is mostly hated or unknown, they are more anarchic than authoritarian, and Silicon Valley is largely left wing. I don't see how any of that could be fairly perceived as 8chan apologetics unless you had a favorable of anarchism (which I do not).

Calling 8chan authoritarian, when they have little to no authority and little to no rules feels like a bad judgment. Surely Nazis and authoritarians abound there, but they aren't organized in any way, they don't control the site, they are just there posting their positions because anyone can go there and post whatever they like.

You suggest that patriarchal tropes are used to keep users in line. I'd like to know more about that. To my knowledge, the users of 8chan are not kept in line - that's kind of the problem. Moderators there delete illegal content as they become aware of it, but beyond that don't do much - per my understanding.

Regarding your point about politics - it seems facile. In the US, which is where Silicon Valley is located, "The Left" refers to a superset which includes the Democrat party. Silicon Valley is overwhelmingly Left in this sense. While it is true you could use a different definition of "Left", doing so only confuses the issue and for little purpose. The people of 8chan who accuse Silicon Valley of being Left leaning are not making the accusation in the cosmopolitan sense which you are apparently interpreting it.




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