Google turns to 4chan founder moot for social reboot

Chris Davies - Mar 8, 2016, 10:19 am CST
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Google turns to 4chan founder moot for social reboot

The founder of controversial messageboard 4chan, a place often described as part of the internet’s dark underbelly, might not be the obvious candidate to join “Do No Evil” Google. Still, that’s just what’s happened, with Chris Poole – aka moot – announcing this week that he’s climbing into bed with the search giant.

The news, which Poole shared on his tumblr, does not specify exactly what his new role – or indeed his title – will be at Google. However, he suggests that building and maintaining communities will be implicit in that.

“I can’t wait to contribute my own experience from a dozen years of building online communities,” Poole writes, “and to begin the next chapter of my career at such an incredible company.”

That’s certainly somewhere Google could use some help with. The company’s most obvious attempt at a social network, Google+, struggled to build an identity: perceived by most as an attempt to wrest some control from Facebook, but continuously billed by Google itself as a broader online identity, it rubbed many users the wrong way by forcing them to create profiles in order to use other services like YouTube.

Google changed that, eventually, diluting Google+’s role in its other products, while features initially integrated being spun out along the way, such as Google Photos.

By the time Google pivoted Google+ most dramatically, in November of last year, it had become a very different service to the oftentimes confusing place it started out as.

While Google was trying to create an all-encompassing space for its users, 4chan targeted a very different type of person. The board was infamous for its no-holds-barred approach, a seething morass of anonymity and escalated pranking that spanned the gamut from Photoshopping through to doxxing and worse.

Poole retired from the community he created in early 2015, handing over the reins to a team of three. Then, later in the year, he sold the site to Hiroyuki Nishimura for an undisclosed sum.

It’s clear Poole has no shortage of experience with online communities. 4chan was almost twelve years old when he sold the site, and had become a notorious mainstay of the internet. All the same, his next challenge may be tougher, simply because of the very different ethos at Google.

Though Google has been vocal around free speech, it’s also a far more politically correct place than you could ever accuse 4chan of being, and that can be a tricky line to walk. One thing’s for sure, though: Google+ needs some sparkle – and maybe some notoriety beyond being widely branded a “failure” – if the company is to compete with Mark Zuckerberg’s growing empire.

SOURCE Chris Poole


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