According to a post on 4chan by its current owner, Hiroyuki Nishimura, the infamously anarchic, anonymous image board is in peril after failing to find a way to make the site’s business model work.
Nishimura, a former administrator at Japanese 4chan forebear 2channel, bought 4chan from its creator, Christopher Poole — best known as m00t — last year. It seems clear that he hasn’t had any better luck making money off of the site than Poole, who’s said that, at best, 4chan only ever made enough money to pay for its own costs.
This isn’t surprising, exactly. At its height, 4chan was known simultaneously as a breeding ground for many of the earliest web memes (lolcats) as well as a place for trolls, mischief makers, and hacktivists to congregate. The amorphous group Anonymous came into being from 4chan’s depths, as did rickrolling — as did the meme-happy wing of the Trump-supporting alt-right. The site’s voluminous traffic and image-based posting style made its hosting costs high, and its often racist, misogynist, violent, and generally as-offensive-as-possible content made it difficult to find legitimate advertisers.
The post published yesterday under Nishimura’s user account outlines three options.
Thank you for thinking about 4chan.
We had tried to keep 4chan as is.
But I failed. I am sincerely sorry.
Some notice there are no more middle ads and bottom ads on 4chan.
Ads don’t work well. So we reduced advertisement servers cost.
4chan can’t afford infrastructure costs, network fee, servers cost, CDN and etc, now.
4chan have three options.
-Halve the traffic cost
limit uploading image sizes
use slower servers.
close some boards
-Much more ads
pop-up / pop under ads
-More 4chan pass users
In 2008, Wired wrote that Nishimura — who lost control of 2channel in 2014 — “has lost about 50 lawsuits and owes millions of dollars in penalties, which he has no intention of paying.”
Exactly what will happen to 4chan is unclear. In many ways, its moment has already passed. Many of its most frequent posters have migrated to other, somehow even more anarchic image boards like 8chan, hosted in the Philippines; others have mainstreamed racist-meme sharing on Twitter. Luckily, troll, pharma-bro, and all-around asshat Martin Shkreli has offered to help out.