8chan Founder Feels 'Responsible' For Mass Shootings
Fredrick Brennan said he feels "at times" responsible for mass shootings linked to 8chan, the controversial online message board he helped create.
In the past week, Brennan has become vocal about shutting down the website he created in 2013, after its repeated links to massacres around the world.
The forum was used in March by the alleged Christchurch mosque shooter to post a white supremacist manifesto before the attack that claimed the lives of 51 people. A month later, a man who killed a woman in a shooting at a California synagogue also used the site to post a racist rant.
But it is the recent El Paso shooting, that killed 22 people, which has prompted Brennan to speak out about 8chan, after the alleged shooter posted a 2500 word manifesto against Hispanic Americans on the website before carrying out the attack.
Brennan sold the site to a former colleague in 2014, and has since moved away from day-to-day management of the page, but has now spoken up about his regrets at how it has changed and darkened in recent years. He spoke to The Project on Wednesday, from his home in Manila, in the wake of the latest shooting.
He claimed he couldn't have foreseen how the site would become entwined with crime when he first created it at age 19, but admitted "you might be right that this is the inevitable outcome of that".
He said "at times" he feels responsible for the shootings linked to the site.
When asked by the show's panel if he ever regrets creating 8chan, Brennan answered with a quick "yes".
"Whenever there is a shooting, I know that I have to research if there is a connection to 8chan," he said.
"Maybe what I'm doing right now is kind of an atonement, because in the past I've dodged opportunities to call for it to be shut down. But for me this was the final straw."
He called the site's current owners "immature".
A tagline on 8chan is "embrace infamy", and Brennan claimed the forum was "egging" on the white supremacists "they knew were on the site".
When users first enter the site, they are greeted with the message "Welcome to 8chan, the Darkest Reaches of the Internet."
Brennan created the site when he was 19 years old, and has previously admitted he was an "angry teenager" who was upset at his disability and reliance on a wheelchair.
The forum was intended to be a space for users to post whatever they wanted under the guise of 'free speech'. But Brennan now admits his lack of "life experience" stopped him from realising the dark turn such a forum could take.
The Project host Waleed Aly said anyone creating a forum to host offensive and outrageous content could be seen as "playing with a fire that they did not understand", and questioned Brennan on whether there should be more stringent controls on who can create similar sites.
"There should be more oversight, before just anybody is allowed to make any forum with any rules," Brennan said.
"But hindsight is 20-20, and there just wasn't any at the time."