4Chan: Buffalo Massacre Highlights Hate-Filled Website

The hate-filled 4chan forum, where all users post anonymously, appears to be at the center of the made-for-internet massacre that took place at a Buffalo supermarket on Saturday – from discussions on the platform that apparently helped to inspire the would-be assailant to release the grisly video of the shooting.
A 180-page document that has been attributed to the man suspected of the shooting, in which 10 people were killed, refers to how he was influenced by what he saw on 4chan, including how he was inspired by watching a video of the 2019 mass shootings in Christchurch, New Zealand – which were also broadcast live.
Ben Decker, CEO of Memetica, a threat analysis firm, told CNN: “This is a step-by-step imitation of Christchurch, both in the real-world attack; the planning and target selection, and online; coordinating livestreaming and posting the manifesto on fringe bulletin boards.”

4chan, which was established in 2003, claims to receive 22 million unique visitors per month, half of them in the United States.

While the site hosts forums on a variety of topics – including video games, memes and anime – and says it has rules against racism, its lax approach to content moderation means that the speech of Hate unauthorized by more mainstream platforms spreads more freely on 4chan.

4chan is part of the Wild West of the Internet. While Big Tech platforms like Facebook and Twitter try to at least control their sites, almost everything happens on 4Chan. Parts of its forums are almost exclusively devoted to sharing racist and anti-Semitic memes and tropes.

A similar site, 8kun – originally called 8chan and spun out of 4chan when that forum banned the movement known as Gamergate – has been linked to other atrocities.

In the immediate aftermath of the Buffalo shooting, some 4chan users did not discuss the horrific loss of life, but instead shared methods to reupload the shooting video so it could be seen by more people. .

Twitch, the Amazon-owned service on which the shooter live-streamed part of the attack, said it removed the video for violating its policies two minutes after the violence began in the video. The live stream itself had only been seen by a small number of people, possibly as few as around 20, according to screenshots that circulated of the stream.

4channers who had apparently recorded the live stream discussed tactics for re-uploading the video to other sites, and services that could be used to hide their identity while they did so.

On Sunday, copies of the video were circulating on the Internet. Some of these copies have reportedly been viewed millions of times.

Platforms like Facebook and Twitter banned sharing of the video on their sites, but companies were clearly struggling on Sunday to contain its spread.

We don’t yet have stats for the Buffalo video, but within 24 hours of the Christchurch shooting, Facebook said it removed 1.5 million copies of the shooter’s video.

The preservation and sharing of these videos by far-right communities on 4chan and other fringe forums can help inspire further bloodshed, Decker says, as evidenced by what the Buffalo suspect wrote in his doc. presumed.

CNN has contacted 4chan for comment.

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