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Sunday, June 14, 2009

4chan website has a darker side

4chan logo4chan.com is a powerful microcosm of all the charm, possibility, chaos and destructiveness of the Internet. It's also a cultural force that has been hailed for its comedic genius, criticized for its cruel shocking pranks and online harassment, and named a center of counterculture by Time, which described it as “raw, sarcastic, bare of any social or political agenda but frequently funny as hell.”

Their idea of a good time is pretty much what you might expect from teenagers, especially bored, sexually frustrated ones. Postings full of swear words and pornography are common. But so are racist slurs, as well as rape jokes, homophobic curses, and toilet humor. The aim is to get a rise out of the audience to create “lulz,” a corruption of “lol” (short for “laugh out loud”) that relies on the joy of upsetting someone.

From pranks and practical jokes to almost anything, no matter how depraved or cruel, can make it onto the message boards since unlike most web forums, 4chan does not filter salacious or vulgar material. Although there is a ban on child pornography. Most people are automatically given the name “Anonymous” since it doesn’t require user names or registration. Humor is intensified by anonymity, which several studies show can shift behavior and even morality, says Shaheen Shariff, a professor of education at McGill University. Consequences in the real world seem remote, and some people become less empathetic, more aggressive.

But prosecuting online harassers is extremely difficult. Most harassment cases aren’t serious enough to involve the police, so it’s up to the victim to track down those responsible. Legally, the websites are protected. In the U.S., section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, virtually immunizes them from liability for anything individuals post. This gives sites like 4chan "carte blanche" - having free rein to choose whatever course of action you want. Sometimes channers work for society, rooting out predators and cat torturers. At others, they engage in cyber-terrorism and harassment. The choice is entirely theirs. A range of behaviours that wouldn’t otherwise occur enables anonymity and our laws haven’t yet evolved to keep up.

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2 comments:

Anonymous said...

We are legion. We do not forgive, we do not forget.

Anonymous said...

Remeber the rules

1. do not talk about /b/

2. DO not talk about /b/

3. We are Anonymous

4. Anonymous is leigon

5. Anonymous never forgives

6. Anonymous never forgets

7. Anonymous is still able to deliver

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