What is 4chan?
4chan is an imageboard website that is mostly used by young males. Official demographics state that the most popular age group are those between 18 and 25. However, there are multiple personal accounts online of teens who use 4chan.
It was originally created as an answer to Japan’s 2chan and used to discuss anime. However, it now has boards ranging from video gaming to adult content that is easily accessible by all visitors to the site. 4chan is also a source for many internet memes as well as political movements and hacktivism. As a result, it has been at the centre of many controversies in the media.
How does 4chan work?
Those who use 4chan do not need to sign up. All images and discussion can be shared anonymously. When a user lands on the page, they can choose any of the boards. A message will then pop up claiming that content is for “mature” users only, disclaiming any harm on the boards and requesting users read the rules. While the site rules state that 4chan is only for 18+, the use of “mature” could be misconstrued as some. For example, a teen landing on the site may consider themselves mature enough to view the content regardless of whether they are a minor.
Users can then ‘Start a New Thread’ with an image and choose to remain anonymous or type in a name. When posted, other users can then reply directly to the original post anonymously as well. However, users’ IP addresses are still tracked and can be banned if site rules are broken. These bans can be appealed.
Is it safe for teens to use 4chan?
4chan is for users 18 years of age or older due to the inappropriate content easily accessible on the site. Although the site has rules in place for each board, the most popular board, /b/ or ‘random’, has fewer rules. In fact, it allows hate speech such as racism and transphobia along with specific pornographic and grotesque content. The site rules state that such content is not allowed outside of /b/.
Some boards are marked as “worksafe” which means that inappropriate content is against the rules.
Why is 4chan controversial?
Because of the content that can be found on the imageboard, 4chan has been at the centre of many controversies. Notable ones include Gamergate, various internet attacks, threats of violence in America and child pornography. There are understandably concerns around the community’s promotion of misogyny and violence across the site.
Despite these dangers, teens may still use the site. This might be because of the funny memes that are shared among communities or because the creator of the site was a teenager himself when he created the site.