In early January, Ars Technica reported on a swatting attempt on an Oregon home—notable in particular because the intended target no longer lived at the address in question. In the 24 hours after publication of that piece, an Ars staffer became the target of an online harassment campaign which began with the posting of private, personal information, a practice known as doxing. That doxing, just like the failed swatting attempt, originated with posts on the imageboard known as 8chan. (Users disagreed with use of “8chan” rather than spelling out “8chan users” in the headline.)
The site, created as a reaction to similar site 4chan (and its changing rules and policies over admissible content), was founded in 2013 by New York native Fredrick Brennan. The 21-year-old had previously been in the news due to a rare medical condition known as brittle bone disease. By the end of 2014, though, his name was in headlines again because of his site’s association with the GamerGate hashtag—specifically, with its most mean-spirited followers—and because a small subset of 8chan users openly doxed and harassed people.
8chan commenters remain largely anonymous. The only confirmed name on the site, really, is that of its vocal creator, who agreed to an interview with Ars Technica late last month.
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