4chan and /b/: Anonymity and Ephemerality


Camera Culture group

Camera Culture group


Many of our online interactions take place in community spaces. We keep track of friends and share pictures on Facebook, chatter with friends on Twitter, and participate in discussions on online forums. But how do the design choices we make impact the kinds of social spaces that develop? To better understand this relationship, we conducted a study of a discussion forum with a particularly unusual design: Perhaps best known for its role in driving Internet culture and its involvement with the "Anonymous" group, we believe 4chan's design plays a large role in its success, despite its counter-intuitiveness. In our first paper exploring this area, we quantify 4chan's ephemerality (there are no archives; most posts are deleted in a matter of minutes) and anonymity (there are no traditional user accounts, and most posts are fully anonymous) and discuss how the community adapts to these unusual design strategies.