Monday, March 14, 2011

4Chan founder on privacy online

The founder of the (in)famous 4Chan website, Christopher Poole, has garnered a bit of press recently (including a profile in this month's Vanity Fair), but has also generated a bit of buzz due to his recent presentation given at South By Southwest Interactive about online privacy.

His views are often contrasted to those of Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg.

Hopefully this will prompt more discussion on this important topic.

4chan founder: Zuckerberg is “totally wrong” about online identity | VentureBeat

...Poole argued that anonymity allows users to reveal themselves in a “completely unvarnished, unfiltered, raw way.” One of the things that’s lost when you carry the same identity everywhere is “the innocence of youth.” (“Innocence” isn’t the first word that would come to mind when I think of 4chan, but okay, I’ll go with him here.) In other words, when everyone knows everything you’ve done online, you’re a lot more worried about screwing up, and you’re less willing to experiment. Poole compared this to being a kid, moving to a new neighborhood, and having the opportunity to start over. On the Internet, you don’t get that opportunity.

“The cost of failure is really high when you’re contributing as yourself,” Poole said.

In the case of 4chan, users feel a lot more comfortable trying to create funny images that can become memes, because content that doesn’t catch on disappears quickly, and they’re not weighed down by their failures. Poole said another benefit to 4chan’s anonymity is that content becomes more important than the creator, which is unlike virtually any other online community. Rather than prioritizing the most valued and experienced users, 4chan allows anyone to access the site and post something that might take off....

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