One has been forced off the Internet after hosting the manifestos of several mass shooters in recent years. The other is part of a media conglomerate with $60 billion in annual revenue and is watched by millions of Americans daily. 8chan and ABC News may have very different reputations in polite society, but which medium for news and discussion exacts a greater social cost?
The New York Times today profiled how 8chan is relaunching after being abandoned by several Internet companies after the El Paso shooting in August. Considering that several mass shooters were users of the anonymous message board, I can understand why companies might not want to be associated with 8chan.
So if 8chan could be considered responsible for several mass shootings, should ABC News be held liable for the scores of women and girls Epstein abused? Similarly, should NBC News be accused of sexual harassment and rape because they helped cover up Harvey Weinstein’s misdeeds? And what about the New York Times, which helped lie us into the Iraq War, resulting in around 200,000 documented deaths?
It’s clear to me that the major news corporations have been responsible for much more death and destruction than 8chan, without minimizing the role of the latter. While some could argue 8chan provides a forum for violent people, what about CNN, which carried a speech recently by James Mattis, who once said, “it’s fun to shoot some people”?
We should also recognize how the refusal of large media corporations to entertain any dissenting views from a narrative that props up their own power has led to the rise of alternative media such as InfoWars and 8chan. In addition to simply refusing to air stories about powerful people like Jeffrey Epstein or Harvey Weinstein, they have also suggested that journalists exposing corruption should be held criminally liable:
So to get the full story, citizens have had to go to the ‘far reaches of the Internet’ to see the truth or hear diverse, interesting viewpoints.
If there is criminality happening on 8chan, we certainly should be concerned and take action to prevent that from flourishing. But thinking that 8chan is one of the major problems facing our society is just another lie coming from big corporations to distract us from their own crimes.