Type of site
Japanese (some parts are in English)
「ハッキング」から「今晩のおかず」まで (From "hacking" to "side dishes for tonight's dinner")
Instagram, Shōsetsuka ni Narō, Pixiv
2channel (2ちゃんねる, ni channeru, 2ch for short) is a Japanese textboard. In 2007, 2.5 million posts were made every day. Launched in 1999, it has gained significant influence in Japanese society, comparable to that of traditional mass media such as television, radio, and magazines. During 2008 the site generated an annual revenue upwards of ¥100 million for its founder Hiroyuki Nishimura. The website was previously operated under Packet Monster Inc., a company based in Chinatown, Singapore, between 2009 and 2014. It has been described as "Japan’s most popular online community, with around ten million Users accessing it each day."
- Referral system
- Anonymous posting
- Slander and legal issues
- Nationalism and hate speech
- Densha Otoko
The name "2channel" is allegedly a reference to how RF modulators, commonly used for connecting earlier-generation game consoles (such as Family Computer by Nintendo) to television sets, default to VHF channel 2 in Japan.
2ch was opened on 30 May 1999 in a college apartment in Conway, Arkansas on the campus of University of Central Arkansas by Hiroyuki Nishimura. At the time, 2channel served as the successor to an earlier anonymous textboard known as Ayashii World. Since 2channel's servers were located in the United States, the website enjoyed a greater degree of immunity to legal action from within Japan, in comparison to its predecessors.
In 2009, Hiroyuki transferred ownership of the website to Packet Monster Inc., a company based in Chinatown, Singapore, while remaining as an administrator. However, due to Japanese bystander laws which state that a website holds full responsibility for the regulation of its community in the event that it becomes accessory to a crime, Hiroyuki was charged with promoting the sale of narcotics on December 20, 2012. Later on August 24, 2013, the Tokyo Regional Taxation Bureau declared in a tax audit that Nishimura failed to declare 100 million yen worth of website revenue which is subject to income tax.
In August 2013, an accidental leak placed the credit card details and personal details of thousands of 2channel users into the public domain, exposing the anonymous profiles of various high level personas such as politicians and writers, in addition to exposing users to identity theft. As a result, a series of lawsuits were filed against the website.
On February 19, 2014, 2channel underwent a domain name repossession, with Jim Watkins, an ex-US Army officer and chairman of San Francisco-based N.T. Technologies taking full control over the website, relieving Nishimura of all power, and assuming the role of website administrator. It was later revealed that 2channel was suffering from financial setbacks prior to the takeover. In response, Nishimura created his own clone of 2channel at 2ch.sc, scraping the contents of the entire 2channel website and costing the original 2channel website significant bandwidth costs. Currently 2ch.sc continues to scrape the contents of 2channel in real-time. In a Q&A session on 4chan shortly after becoming the site's owner, Nishimura claimed that control over 2channel was stolen by Watkins, and that he had filed a lawsuit against Watkins.
The website's scale and management style are unique. It has currently more than 1,000 active boards (板, ita). They are categorised such as "Social News", "Computers", and "Cooking", making it the most comprehensive forum in Japan. Each board usually has some hundreds of active threads. Each thread, in turn, contains up to 1000 anonymous comments.
2ch operates on innovative forum software, which is a major departure from 1980s bulletin board systems. Everything is done anonymously and voluntarily. A posting in a thread will either bump or not, determining its position in the thread list.
Each thread is limited to 1000 postings at maximum, and a new thread must be opened (by some anonymous user, self-elected during discussion) to continue discussion. This prevents the rotting of old threads and keeps active topics refreshed. It also saves bandwidth, which is a major concern on a forum as large as 2ch. Old threads are moved to a paid archive; they are then eventually deleted.
2channel uses a referral system for any links to external websites posted on the forum. People clicking on a link are first sent to a page filled with advertisements where a link to the actual site is placed. Apart from collecting revenue from the 2channel visitors it also attracts website owners of the linked pages who check their statistics and can't link it back to 2channel.
Users will often attempt to bypass this system by removing the h from http in URLs, encouraging others to copy and paste the link, thus avoiding the referral page. For example, http://ja.wikipedia.org/ would become ttp://ja.wikipedia.org/.
One of the most distinctive features of 2ch is the complete freedom of anonymous posting. This is a large departure from most English language internet forums which require some form of registration, usually coupled with email verification for further identification of an individual. On 2ch, a name field is available, but it is seldom used. Entering one's name in the field, unless you do so with an obvious purpose, would identify you as a newbie who does not understand the forum, an administrator, or someone attempting to be a Web celebrity.However, open proxies are banned from posting on 2channel.
Slander and legal issues
The only type of posts which are not allowed are vandalism posts (for example, spamming and flooding) and posts which could be classed as slander under Japanese law, and could result in legal action being undertaken against 2channel. Also, posts which declare intentions to commit a crime would be referred to the police, due to events such as the Neomugicha incident.
In January 2007, a small court in Japan, making a judgment on yet another slander case, announced that 2channel's holding company was bankrupt and it would be repossessed. This claim was openly mocked by Nishimura on 2channel's splash page, and nothing of the sort happened, although 2channel's Japanese ISP ended its operations.
Nationalism and hate speech
2channel, with its massive size and anonymous posting, is abundant with slander, hate speech and Defamation against public figures, institutions, minorities, and specific ethnic groups. Though the site has a rule to delete illegal postings defined under Japanese law, the scale and anonymous nature of the site makes a prompt response difficult. On occasion, 2channel has been accused of being reluctant to remove defamatory postings. The discussion boards are also often used to coordinate real-life demonstrations; as an example, 2channel users organised an August 2011 rally against Fuji Television, under the concern that the channel was broadcasting too many Korean television shows.
Densha Otoko, "Train Man", is a Japanese movie, television series, manga, novel, and other media, all based on the purportedly true story of a 23-year-old man who intervened when a drunk man started to harass several women on a train. The man ultimately begins dating one of the women. The event and the man's subsequent dates with the woman were chronicled on 2channel.