Google’s newest hire: Chris Poole, ‘Zuckerberg of online underground’

Google

Related: 4chan founder 'Moot' bids farewell: 'This is it for me.

Google has hired Christopher Poole, the founder of the notorious and controversial internet image-board 4chan.

Poole announced the move in a post on Tumblr, writing that he planned to “contribute my own experience from a dozen years of building online communities” to the internet behemoth.

Poole’s reference to “online communities”, as well the news’ confirmation by Google+ architect and vice-president of streams, photos, and sharing, Bradley Horowitz, has led many to speculate that Poole will help Google tackle social media, one of the few areas of the internet where Google has failed to compete.

In November 2015, Google announced the latest redesign of its lackluster social network, one that aimed to emulate Reddit and Pinterest more than social king Facebook. But the site has remained an afterthought in the social conversation.

Whether Poole’s magic touch can change that is an open question.

Described by Rolling Stone as the “Mark Zuckerberg of the online underground”, Poole founded 4chan in 2003 when he was just 15 years old. Today the site claims to attract 22 million unique visitors per month.

The sprawling, anarchic community spawned some of the internet’s most popular and creative memes – LOLcats and Rickrolling were both born there.

But 4chan has also gained a reputation as a breeding ground for abuse, trolling and online harassment. The site was at the center of the 2014 hack of private photographs of more than 100 female celebrities.

In January 2015, Poole retired from running 4chan, and in September 2015, the site was sold to a Japanese entrepreneur.

Google declined to comment on Poole’s hiring beyond Horowitz’s Google+ post. Poole did not immediately respond to an inquiry.

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Julia Carrie Wong in San Francisco, for theguardian.com on Monday 7th March 2016 23.51 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010