Google has hired Chris Poole, the creator of controversial forum 4Chan, as part of its social network team.
Poole,said he was impressed by Google’s commitment to “tackling some of the world’s most interesting and important problems”.
“When meeting with current and former Googlers, I continually find myself drawn to their intelligence, passion, and enthusiasm,” said Poole.
— moot (@moot) March 7, 2016
Poole – known as “moot” online – created the site in 2003. 4chan started out as a photo-sharing forum for Japanese anime fans but quickly grew to becoming one of the most popular — and reviled — online platforms because of its commitment to free speech and anonymity.
The site has been behind many of the most popular memes on the internet, such as lolcats and “Rickrolling”. However, it has gone on to be closely associated with offensive and often illegal activity, including instances where the images of child abuse were shared.
It was widely credited as being the first place where leaked images of nude celebrities were posted following 2014’s well-publicised security breach affecting Apple’s iCloud service. That incident prompted a policy change on the site.
However, 4chan has also been the rallying point for many instances of online activism from the likes of Anonymous, the loosely organized hacktivism grou, which started on 4chan.
In an interview with Rolling Stone, Poole said that “stupid stuff” wasn’t supposed to be a part of the site but that quickly became part of the site’s identity. Poole encouraged the site’s sense of lawlessness but did what he could to follow the law, cooperating with law enforcement investigations and taking down copyrighted material, Rolling Stone reported. He also banned those who violated the site’s conduct rules — to the extent he could.
His arrival was welcomed by Bradley Horowitz, the head of “streams, photos and sharing” at the search giant’s floundering social network, Google+.
“I’m thrilled he’s joining our team here at Google,” Mr Horowitz said.”Welcome Chris!”
— Bradley Horowitz (@elatable) March 7, 2016
Several commentators described the appointment as “unexpected” but noted that Poole’s expertise with social media could prove useful to the search firm.
Google hasn’t revealed its plans for the new Google Plus, which was split into photos and streams in 2015. Google CEO Sundar Pichai said that the company will increasingly “focus on communications, photos, and the Google Plus Stream as three important areas, rather than being thought of as one area.”
Poole’s passion for pseudonymity is what made 4chan popular and could help make Google’s social network competitive.
View his TED talk from 2012 below: