4chan founder to Facebook CEO: you're doing it wrong

4chan founder to Facebook CEO: you're doing it wrong

Summary: 4chan founder Christopher Poole does not agree with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg when it comes to anonymity and online identity.

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At South by Southwest Interactive 2011 in Austin, Texas this week, 4chan founder Christopher Poole (also known as "moot") took the stage to talk about various online issues. One of these was how important anonymity is on the Internet and how Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg doesn't get it.

"Mark Zuckerberg has kind of equated anonymity with a lack of authenticity, almost a cowardice," said Poole. "I would say that's totally wrong. I think anonymity is authenticity. It allows you to share in a completely unvarnished, unfiltered, raw way. I think that's something that's extremely valuable. In the case of content creation, it just allows you to play in ways that you may not have otherwise. We believe in content over creator."

It makes sense for Poole to be a big backer of anonymity: it has been a key reason for 4chan's success. The message board was started in 2003 as a place online for people interested in Japanese culture, anime, and cartoons. Now it sees 12 million users monthly; many visit the /b/ board, which Poole described as "kind of the dark heart of the Internet."

Poole believes that 4chan has grown so quickly because it requires no registration, anyone can come in to contribute, and there's no archive (posts that are created fall off within minutes). As a result, users can employ what Poole calls "fluid identity," where there's no risk of failure, so experimentation flourishes.

Elsewhere on the Web, however, such as websites that require you to login via Facebook, the cost of failure is really high because you're contributing as yourself. As a result, mistakes are attributed to who you are, Poole argues.

It may thus be a bit surprising that Poole's latest endeavor, Canvas, requires Facebook Connect to sign up (by default Canvas posts are anonymous as on 4Chan, but there is an option to attach your name to whatever you create on the site). It's clear that he's not completely against Facebook, as the social network is useful for "weeding out your more casual trolls"; he just believes that it Zuckerberg's stance on anonymity is incorrect.

Poole's keynote is available in three parts on YouTube, embedded below. You can watch him talk about fluid identity in the first video, starting at the 9 minutes and 15 seconds mark.

Topic: Social Enterprise

Emil Protalinski

About Emil Protalinski

Emil is a freelance journalist writing for CNET and ZDNet. Over the years,
he has covered the tech industry for multiple publications, including Ars
Technica, Neowin, and TechSpot.

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8 comments
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  • If Zuckerberg's $13 billion worth tells something, then it is that he did

    wrong by far not everything.

    (Zuckerberg's nearly non-existent moral principles aside.)
    DDERSSS
    • RE: 4chan founder to Facebook CEO: you're doing it wrong

      @denisrs 4chan income is in the low 5 digits according to a Wired article on Poole... so that is something!? ;)
      hjenkins1
    • RE: 4chan founder to Facebook CEO: you're doing it wrong

      He's definitely got the money stream/advertising down solid. Protecting the privacy of his users... not so much.
      ALISON SMOCK
  • If I was on 4chan

    I'd want to be anonymous, too.
    matthew_maurice
  • RE: 4chan founder to Facebook CEO: you're doing it wrong

    User base is a little bit different.
    KerryNicponski
  • market?

    What they both have RIGHT is that both sites are free and pledged to stay that way.

    FB is worth more money but I think 4Chan has more meta influence on Society, creating new memes, etc.

    Yeah FB makes $$ from ads far outstripping that earned by 4Chan.. but my guess is if you asked users to voluntarily pay (with anonymity, of course) the 12 million 4 Chan users would cough up more than FB 600 Million.. but who knows..
    hawkH
  • RE: 4chan founder to Facebook CEO: you're doing it wrong

    Facebook was never meant to be anonymous. It's somewhat refreshing that there's at least one place on the web that most people don't hide behind their online identity.
    CrunchieSquirrel
  • Posting as Anonymous vs Yourself

    We've written a little reply/commentary to this piece available over at the Operation Reality blog @ http://blog.operationreality.org/?p=1597

    We hope you enjoy.
    samfer