4chan founder Christopher Poole says Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg is wrong to equate anonymity with cowardice
Poole, who at 24 is one of the few Internet entrepreneurs younger than Zuckerberg, challenged the Facebook billionaire’s stance that online anonymity reflects a lack of moral fibre, arguing that the anonymity permitted on 4chan has allowed a freedom of expression that wouldn’t be possible otherwise.
‘Anonymity is authenticity’
“Zuckerberg’s totally wrong on anonymity being total cowardice,” Poole said in a speech at the South By Southwest Interactive conference in Austin, Texas over the weekend, according to reports. “Anonymity is authenticity. It allows you to share in a completely unvarnished, raw way.”
4chan allows people to post images anonymously, and has been the source of some of the most widespread Internet fads.
The site is also infamous as the place where the hacking group Anonymous originated.
Zuckerberg, for his part has argued that users should have a single online identity that follows them from site to site.
In a 2009 interview for David Kirkpatrick’s book The Facebook Effect, for instance, Zuckerberg said: “Having two identities for yourself is an example of a lack of integrity.”
‘Innocence of youth’
Poole compared anonymity to “the innocence of youth”, saying it allows people to continue to be creative, without being weighed down by their failures.
“The cost of failure is really high when you’re contributing as yourself,” Poole reportedly said.
He said the anonymity on 4chan represents the fact that “we value content over creator”.
However, he acknowledged that anonymity also has its dangers, and that the material posted on the site isn’t always completely safe. “I don’t recommend you go poking around without knowing what you’re clicking on,” he said.