The website 4chan, synonymous with internet culture, is in financial difficulty according to its owner, with its future is quite uncertain at this point. The costs associated with running the popular hub have become unsustainable in the website’s current form.
Though these days 4chan is much more often associated with the alt-right political train of thought, trolling campaigns and vast oceans of misogyny, racism and bigotry, the popular message board hasn’t always been like that.
Well, actually it has, but it’s also been responsible for vast subcultures, memes and general internet culture as we know it. Everything from Rick-rolling, to Anonymous, and countless memes inbetween; each began on its message boards.
With its culture of anonymity and “anything goes” attitude, 4chan represents the internet as a whole, perhaps as no other site can: bringing together the very best and the very very worst of internet culture. Its impact has been broad, albeit sometimes subtly so, and its effect on the internet’s DNA is undeniable.
But now, that era might be coming to an end. 4chan’s owner, Hiroyuki Nishimura, posted over the weekend that the website was in trouble. He said “infrastructure costs, network fee, servers cost and CDN” costs had become unsustainable for the site in its current form. Nishimura explained there were three options going forward: closing down some boards and limiting file upload size, adding a lot of new ads including pop-up ones and “malicious ads”, or getting more users to pay using the site by way of “4chan pass”.
A fourth option seems to have shown up in the meantime, though. As The Guardian reports, the infamous “pharma bro” Martin Shkreli, best known for trying to squeeze money out of dying people and committing securities fraud, has seemingly offered to help out 4chan financially. In a tweet, Shkreli said he was open to joining 4chan’s board, likely in return for a sizable influx of cash into the company.
Neither Shkreli nor Nishimura have commented publicly since, nor have any other announcements been posted on 4chan. However, regardless of which way this goes, it’s clear that the website's future is quite uncertain and we might never get to know who is this 4chan.