The Power of Words

In the TED interview titled Christopher “moot” Poole: The case for anonymity online, 4chan and its anonymity and community was discussed by its founder, Chistopher Poole. Poole made it clear that the idea of 4chan is to bring people together through sharing sites, information, videos, and more. Known to be more on the open side, with its sharing of explicit videos or pictures, 4chan makes it possible to share anything and it never traces back to others since there is no archive along with the anonymity.

Anonymity can be a touchy subject, considering since there is no identity, anything can be said or posted, which can sometimes have negative consequences. But, founder Christopher Poole does support the access of 4chan and the anonymity that it has all throughout the site.

“Saying whatever you like is powerful. Doing whatever you like is crossing the line.”

Poole mentioned that thanks to 4chan, good things can happen. There were videos going around of a guy abusing his cat. Once the videos were posted onto 4chan, people were able to identify who the person was and within 48 hours the person was arrested and the cat was saved. It’s through sites like these where crimes can be stopped and people can’t get away with horrible things, such as abuse, so easily.

This video made me think of the many downsides to anonymity, though. We hear of so many stories of young teens and even adults committing suicide or doing harmful things due to being bullied online, because it’s just so easy to gain access or make a fake account. Old apps such as “honesty box” and websites such as “formspring” are basically invitations to bully one another and say things behind a computer because there will be no punishment since it’s not said face-to-face. So, although 4chan can have great connections and findings when it comes to crime, it opens up other possibilities that can be questionable and harmful.

In today’s society, we have apps such as the new “yik yak,” a smartphone app that has people post statuses, like an anonymous Twitter throughout one’s college community or town. Although this can be funny and entertaining, it opens up the possibility for names to be thrown around, bullying to occur, or personal information to be shared without any repercussions. It’s scary when you think about the easy access to anonymity and what one could do with it.

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