If you’ve been around the internet long enough, you may have visited the anonymous message board 4chan at least once. From wacky business advice to strange travel plans and even bizarre anime, the messaging board has long served as the epicenter of popular internet culture and expression of unbridled thought.
But with great anonymity comes great responsibility; something 4chan remarkably fails at. The site is filled with racist and misogynistic posts. While there are a few rules that users are supposed to adhere by, they are rarely enforced.
However, Jerry Brito, the CEO of Washington DC-based crypto advocacy group Coin Center, unveiled his own anonymous forum Club.P yesterday, which he described as “an anonymous and ephemeral discussion board like 4chan, but membership-based.” The idea being that it could provide internet fanatics, who want to stay private, with a safe online sandbox.
2/ Social media like Twitter is increasingly speech-policed, status-game-focused, and less creative. Anonymous discussion boards are rollicking and generative, but have obvious downsides. My experiment: Register members and charge modest $2/mo to keep out trolls, help moderation
— jerrybrito (@jerrybrito) August 3, 2020
The platform seeks a move away from online-policing, conformity, and political correctness on the internet.
Brito said his effort is a response to the ads, the tracking, the trolling, the hype, and other predatory behavior on popular media, adding that Club.P is a “dark forest” that users can retreat to and get away from the mainstream world.
How will Club.P work?
Unlike completely anonymous forums like 4chan, users will be assigned a unique alphanumeric ID (like how Bitcoin addresses look) and their posts are associated with that ID. This will help to ban users for any untoward reason, all without knowing their name, email, number, or other personal info.
Meanwhile, Club.P is not meant as a 4chan competitor, at least not yet. Brito noted the site remains a “fun hobby project” for now, and that he reserves the right to change any of the features mentioned above or even shut it down. It was also inspired by other social media platforms.
The grand Twitter VIP club
Twitter is one of the key tools for anyone keeping up with the fast pace of the crypto world. But Brito argued it has several key problems.
“Social media like Twitter is increasingly speech-policed, status-game-focused, and less creative. Anonymous discussion boards are rollicking and generative but have obvious downsides. My experiment: Register members and charge modest $2/mo to keep out trolls, help moderation,” explained Brito.
He pointed out how power users lead the popularity charts based on likes, retweets, and follower counts. These metrics, somehow, bring forth a sense of genuineness to mere opinion—one changes their views based on how their followers perceive things around them.
“Your view on the world is limited by the set of people you have chosen to follow, as well as how a platform’s algorithm has chosen to present their messages. The result is a conversation that is often performative and susceptible to groupthink and tribalism,” Brito said.
But sites like 4chan, he stated, change these interactions. Their anonymous nature fosters discussion independent of follower counts, likes or retweets, while the site’s algorithm does not push certain expressions or narratives for individual users. One sees what everyone else does.
So far, the idea has found strong support across the privacy-centric crypto community.
For years now we’ve been stuck in the part of the cycle where people think that the current dominating organizations and social patterns are permanent. Glad to see a crop of little experiments like this one sprouting up. On to the next phase of the cycle! https://t.co/CiIRVMSOfi
— zooko (@zooko) August 3, 2020
“For years now we’ve been stuck in the part of the cycle where people think that the current dominating organizations and social patterns are permanent. Glad to see a crop of little experiments like this one sprouting up,” tweeted Zooko Wilcox, CEO of the Electric Coin Company, which builds privacy coin Zcash.
Balaji Srinivasan, who retweeted the announcement of Club.P, last year set up his own platform designed to encourage discussion across the crypto sector. But it was marred by controversy, largely over its combination of Bitcoin-focused branding and advocacy of the wider cryptocurrency industry. Since then, the project has gone quiet. Can Club.P find the right formula for success?