They See Me Trollin'
Michael Gallagher just wanted to tap into the zeitgeist.
The 23-year-old filmmaker–known for his popular YouTube series, Totally Sketch–is about to release his first full-length feature film, a low budge horror flick called Smiley. But what should amount to buzzy excitement leading up to the film’s launch has been eclipsed by personal attacks on Mr. Gallagher made by notorious message board 4chan and hacktivist collective Anonymous.
The reason? Mr. Gallagher painted both 4chan and Anonymous as the villains of Smiley. Obviously, this didn’t sit well with either group.
Shimmery fairydust composite Taylor Swift, who floats instead of walks and subsists entirely on a nutritional diet of rainbows, has decided not to let the trolls ruin a good contest.
Back in August, Reddit and 4chan galvanized for the all-important cause of gaming a VH1 competition that would send Ms. Swift to perform at a school that received the highest amount of votes. Soon, a hoard of trolls began liking Ms. Swift on Facebook and voting to send her to the Horace Mann School for the Deaf in Boston.
(Get it? Sending a musician to a school for kids who can’t hear music? “Lulz.”)
Harder Better Faster Stronger
You may remember Jessi Slaughter, the outgoing Florida teenager whose attention-seeking YouTube videos earned her the scorn and mass rage of the 4chan army. An intense online battle ensued between Ms. Slaughter and 4chan; her family famously got involved, with that now-notorious video of her father shouting “Ya dun goof’d,” which became a meme in itself. Now, it looks like 4chan is going after another woman who has dared to challenge them. Her name is Lacey Vicich.
“Two years ago there was a girl names Jessi Slaughter,” reads an anonymous email sent by “The Cyber Police” that landed in Betabeat’s inbox today. “People brought that girl to tears but we intend to bring Lacey Vicich to her knees.”
4chan is a little stuck in web 1.0. Like Craigslist and even Ebay, its interface has been paused in the mid-aughts, making navigation a little less than intuitive. But that could change very soon. After returning to the fold to introduce a Q&A feature last month, 4chan ombudsman moot (nee Chris Poole) announced on the site’s blog today that he is releasing a read-only JSON API.
Mr. Poole said that 1.5 percent of 4chan’s traffic comes from extensions and third party apps, but those apps work primarily by parsing HTML. By releasing a JSON API, developers can begin to build third party clients–both mobile and desktop–that provide a more optimal 4chan reading experience and ostensibly run much faster than their HTML brethren. (Read-only means that developers can harness the API to allow users to read content from 4chan, but not allow them to post through third party apps.)
On May 15, 2007, a then-19-year-old YouTube user named Shawn Cotter–employing the handle “cotter548”–uploaded the music video for Rick Astley’s 1987 hit song “Never Gonna Give You Up,” intending to troll some of his fellow gaming cohorts on 4chan. Mr. Cotter, who was serving in the Air Force in South Korea at the time, linked to the video under the pretense that it was a new trailer for Grand Theft Auto: IV. But as that now-familiar drum cadence faded in and the caption “You just got Rickroll’d” floated across the screen, users discovered they weren’t watching a video game trailer at all.
The digital bait-and-switch of Rickrolling was born, and 4chan was not amused.
ALL YOUR MEME BELONG TO US
4chan is either the beginning or the end of the Internet, depending on who you ask. The beginning camp points out that so much of the content on Reddit and Buzzfeed originated in 4chan’s message boards. The end of days camp merely shakes their head and points to /b/.
The polarizing message board clocked its billionth post today, prompting Moot (née Christopher Poole), to post a news update to 4chan for the first time since 2008. The fearless leader of the original meme factory, who can occasionally be seen at parties around town clutching his backpack, offered some insight about the changes over the last four years. He also announced a new recurring feature that would allow 4chan users to engage in a more direct dialog with him.
Canvas members received a celebratory email in their inbox this morning. The image-driven social website celebrated its first birthday this week, as well as its one millionth post. As a sign the startup is all growns up, Canvas also announced that you no longer have to use Facebook to sign up. Email notifications “when someone replies or remixes one of your posts” are also now enabled, which should encourage users to visit the site.
When Christopher Poole, the fair-haired boy prince of meme land, first founded Canvas, it sounded like purposeful departure from his first startup, 4chan. Instead of the malwebolence of the /b/ boards, users were asked to “Keep it safe for work | Don’t be mean | Stay on topic.” That may have helped the startup pick up $3.63 million in funding, but it yielded mixed results, at first. (Nazi necrophilia, anyone?)
But that appears to have changed.
The Internet Makes You Mean
Where do you go from a headline like that. Seriously, my career as a tech blogger really feels like it was all leading up to writing something so simultaneously shocking and banal.
If you haven’t been among the lucky ones (Betabeat demands to know why we were overlooked), Facebook users have been complaining that horrific, violent pornography has been appearing their feeds. With the new timeline feature just released, users were understandably confused about where this imagery was coming from. Repressed memories, perhaps? “I noticed Facebook porn in my friend feed. New feature? No. A Facebook ‘virus’ shows hardcore porn and violent,” tweeted Christopher Justice, a CEO of an Austin-based online design firm.
Mr. Justice deserves justice, and Facebook is going to give it to him. ZDNET’s “Friending Facebook” blog updated their story this afternoon with the social network’s response. “Facebook has revealed the huge flood of links, videos, and images depicting pornography, acts of violence, self-mutilation, and bestiality, on the site is the result of a coordinated spam attack.
The Third Degree
4Chan, the image board created by New York’s Chris “Moot” Poole when he was just 15, has gone on to generate some of the funniest memes and most destructive communities on the internet. Last year he launched a new startup, Canvas, which tried to recreate the viral language of creating and sharing images without the filth of 4chan. The startup, which has raised more than $3.6 million so far from top flight VCs and angels, opened up to the public today.
Canvas insisted during its private beta that users log in with Facebook Connect and posted a simple set of rules: “Keep it safe for work | Don’t be mean | Stay on topic.” It banned sexually provocative content, hate speech and insults. The rules seems to be working … sort of.
The idea behind The Daily Dot, a new website that just emerged from invite-only private beta today, sounds like a great premise for an infographic. “Day-to-day coverage will focus on ‘neighborhoods.’ Sites like Reddit, like Digg and like Etsy are really like cities. And the web is like a large country of itself,” founding editor Owen Thomas told his former colleagues at VentureBeat. It’s easy enough to picture an illustrator going to town with a map of the internet and Etsy’s cutesy, cuddly cul-de-sac next to 4Chan’s lawless urban sprawl.
But is it enough to carry an entire newspaper?