Showing posts with label Free Speech. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Free Speech. Show all posts

September 6, 2019

The Problem with Free Speech is that it is Also Free To Be Taken Over By The Enemy

The imageboard 8chan is now infamous as the website where the mass killers in New Zealand and El Paso shared their racist ideologies. But it didn't start that way. It began as a haven for free speech — the dark heart of the internet where you could find weird porn, graphic violence, the most morbid jokes. That’s how the founder saw it, anyway.

Fredrick Brennan created the site in 2013, when he was just 19. To understand how a person could be angry enough to create a place like 8chan, you have to understand his life. Brennan has osteogenesis imperfecta, a congenital disease that makes bones curved and weak. He’s broken a bone at least 100 times and has spent most of his life in a wheelchair, finding escape on the internet — 4chan especially. 

“When I started using 4chan heavily, my whole life became about the internet,” Brennan told VICE News. “And my real life stopped mattering to me.”

Eventually he dreamed up 8chan — basically 4chan, but with even fewer rules. The site was a modest success. But then the misogynistic Gamergate movement skyrocketed its popularity.

“I looked at Gamergate very cynically,” Brennan said. “I didn’t care about the ethics. And I didn’t care about the women ... I just cared that this is bringing users to my site.”

Brennan sold the site in 2014 and moved to Manila — where he could afford in-home care — but stayed on with the company that owns it through 2018. He began denouncing his creation earlier this year after a gunman killed 51 people in two New Zealand mosques after posting a white supremacist manifesto on 8chan. 

And after the El Paso shooting in August, Brennan called for the site to be deleted forever. Trolls swept in; they tried to post his address, and sent him images of him being pushed down the stairs.

 “I didn't create online harassment,” Brennan said. “This has all been going on way before I came of age, but in a way, I kind of deserve it, don't you think?”

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