9GAG is an online platform and social media website. Users upload and share user-generated content or other content from external social media websites. Since the website was launched on April 12, 2008, it has grown in popularity, reaching more than 31.2 million Facebook likes, 8.34 million Twitter followers in February 5, 2017 and 32.8 million followers on Instagram in September 2016.
In December 2015 it had 164 million visitors: 7.82% from Germany, 7.02% from the United States, 5.35% from France, 4.77% from Brazil and 3.93% from Turkey. As of 2015 the company had raised $24.5 million in total funding. Investors included 500 Startups, Benjamin Ling, BoxGroup, Adam Rothenberg, David Tisch, Freestyle Capital, James Hong, Philip Kaplan, Scott Banister, Stapleton Inc, Luvtug, and Y Combinator.
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The website was co-founded in 2008 - 2009 by University of Hong Kong student Ray Chan, his brother Chris Chan, and others, with the intention of creating an alternative online platform to email on which users could easily share humorous photos or videos. In a 2012 interview, Ray Chan declined to explain where the name "9GAG" is derived from.
Starting the company under a “Just for Fun” mentality, 9GAG's co-founders began using 9GAG as a résumé-builder for the 500 Startups accelerator program. During the summer program, the 9GAG team worked on other startup ideas, including StartupQuote and Songboard. Following the 500 Startups accelerator program, 9GAG participated in Y Combinator's incubator and its user-base increased to 70 million global unique visitors per month. The 9GAG co-founding team discontinued all other projects and shifted their focus exclusively on 9GAG. 500 Startups was given equity for their aid and mentorship.
In July 2012, 9GAG raised an additional US$2.8 million in funding from Silicon Valley-based venture capital, including True Ventures and Greycroft Partners. In August 2012, 9GAG received another US$2.8 million in funding from Silicon Valley venture capitalists, including True Ventures and Greycroft Partners, as well as individual investors like Christopher Sacca, Kevin Rose, and Naval Ravikant. This funding was able to support 9GAG's engineering team growth both in Hong Kong and in Silicon Valley.
Mobile app development
9GAG has a mobile application on iOS, Android, Windows Phone 8, and BlackBerry 10.
In July 2012, 9GAG launched an app for iOS and Android. The mobile application serves as a streamlined version of the web-based content. In summer 2014 9GAG launched 9CHAT. 9GAG users are able to log in to their account and write to others by sending them a message. 9CHAT also added support for the creation of groups in different sections. January 2015, 9GAG launched its first game called 9GAG Redhead redemption.
The website's content is generally referred to as "internet memes", and is upvoted, downvoted, and commented on by users.
Similar to other social media websites like 4chan, Reddit and Digg, 9GAG utilizes user-generated memes or content taken from other websites that are shared with the entire 9GAG community. While memes have different categories, they are typically displayed as humorous images, or comic strips, with captions conveying certain messages.
9GAG's content is now shifting toward an era of GIF's (Graphic Interchange Format) in which a short clip is posted, possibly with some editing (bananas, texts, etc.)
These image memes are typically formatted, whereby a given image has both top and bottom captions. While the top caption describes a certain situation, the bottom caption usually complements the top caption by presenting a humorous follow up message to the original situation.
Users who post content taken from other websites usually remove any reference to the original author before posting.
A featured section shows current, popular content. As of January 2016, sections such as Fallout 4, Star Wars, Anime and Manga, One-Punch Man and others have been added.
9GAG also has a Pro Version (witch includes no ads, Night Mode, a 'Pro' tag, and more), it can be purchased on the app.
As of December 2016, the frequently requested Dark Humor section has been added, along with the Country section.
On January / February, 2017, 9GAG released the 'I Made Dis' and 'No Fear No Fun' sections after testing them in a beta version.
9GAG users and admins may also re-post content (usually without any consent from its respective authors) from other websites (e.g. 4chan, Newgrounds, Reddit, SomethingAwful, FunnyJunk, YTMND, etc.), replacing the source site's watermark with their own. In 2011, 9GAG and 4chan disputed authorship of internet memes published on both websites, whereby each company claimed the memes originated from their own website. As stated by 9GAG co-founder Ray Chan, "9GAG does not create memes or rage comics, but helps spread them."
9GAG Repost Machine
In 2012, some users of 9GAG discovered a number of admin and bot accounts, which re-posted content from different websites, but mostly subreddits on Reddit, without acknowledging original sources. The discovery had created some attention, because sometimes, users' original content or pictures of themselves were reposted by admins (or their bots), making it look like the re-poster was the original creator. The process of re-posting seemed to be partly automated, which sometimes resulted in "local jokes" being re-posted to 9GAG, and thus, being completly out-of-context. Prior to 2016, some posts had the number of upvotes edited, which resulted in users wondering how the post "Made it to Hot".
An example of an "admin post" - roughly 50.000 upvotes and almost no comments. As it is seen in the comment section, the users make hints about the post being a "reddit" or an "admin post", though without naming the words, so that their comment wouldn't be hidden (or to avoid being "shadowbanned" for naming them).
This quickly became known as "9GAG repost machine".
Though speaking about re-posts or discussing the "9GAG repost machine" is not officially forbidden, comments and posts about it are being hidden automatically, and their posters "shadowbanned". That means, any comments containing words like "Reddit", "4chan", "repost", "stolen", or "repost machine", would be hidden for everyone but the poster. Pointing out the source of an "admin re-post" has also been known to result in "shadowbans" of unknown duration, during which, the users' comments became invisible for everyone but themselves. It is currently unknown, whether the "shadowbans" are being lifted after some time, or are applied to the account forever.