The influential and controversial message board 4chan has been sold to Japanese web entrepreneur-turned-magazine editor Hiroyuko Nishimura for an undisclosed sum, it was announced today.
Nishimura, who was recently appointed editor of Variety Japan, was the founder of 2channel, the wildly popular Japanese image-board on which 4chan was originally modelled when it was started in 2003. 4chan quickly overshadowed its Japanese-language cousin in influence, if not in raw traffic, however, to become one of the most influential – and one of the most controversial – websites.
Revelling in its reputation as the filthy, sweaty engine-room of the internet, 4chan – and especially the /b/ (random) board, the site’s first board – was the originator and hub of a vast amount of internet subculture including “LOLcats” and the practice of “Rickrolling”, in which an unsuspecting user is tricked into clicking on a link which takes them to the YouTube video of Rick Astley’s Never Gonna Give You Up – a practice which re-booted Astley’s career.
4chan is also largely credited with being where the online hacktivist collective Anonymous originated, and it was at the center of the nude celebrity photo leak known as “the fappening” in 2014.
Today, it claims 22 million unique users every month and a million new posts every day.
In January 4chan’s founder, Chris Poole – who goes by the username Moot – announced he was stepping down as administrator of the site, and in a news post on Monday he announced the sale of the site to Nishimura. He said that he and Nishimura were “fast friends” who had bonded “over our shared passion for creating and managing online communities”.
“He is one of few individuals with a deep understanding of what it means to provide a digital home for tens of millions of people for more than a decade. There is nobody more qualified than Hiroyuki to lead 4chan, and I can’t think of a person better suited for the task,” Poole’s statement continued.
“4chan sits on the eve of two great milestones – its 2 billionth post and 12th birthday. It has been a great privilege to serve as 4chan’s founder and steward for almost twelve years, and I can’t wait to see what lays in store under Hiroyuki’s experienced leadership,” Poole concluded.
This article was written by Nicky Woolf in New York, for theguardian.com on Monday 21st September 2015 19.57 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010