In one of the more headscratching hires of recent times, Google has hired 4chan’s founder Chris Poole. The man known online as “moot” will work on Google’s social media offerings, notably Google +.
At its most basic, 4chan is simply an image posting board with particularly relaxed rules on content and user identity, but it’s become influential — in online terms at least — through a combination of creating memes and spawning the Anonymous hacktivist movement.
Poole started the process of withdrawing from the site early last year and sold it in September. Some commentators believe he grew disillusioned after attempting to crack down on posts with leaked celebrity photographs and with the Gamergate row, both of which provoked a hostile response from site users who argued such crackdowns were against the spirit of the site.
In a brief statement on his personal site, Poole noted that:
When meeting with current and former Googlers, I continually find myself drawn to their intelligence, passion, and enthusiasm — as well as a universal desire to share it with others. I’m also impressed by Google’s commitment to enabling these same talented people to tackle some of the world’s most interesting and important problems.
I can’t wait to contribute my own experience from a dozen years of building online communities, and to begin the next chapter of my career at such an incredible company.
There’s no official word on what Poole will do at Google, though the company’s ” Chief Architect of Ambient Computing” Yonatan Zunger commented on the hire and tried to put the emphasis on Poole’s ideas and technical creativity in developing 4chan rather than the way it was used:
Poole is by no means a troll or a troll-curator, and I actually think that with the rather different crowd of people who hang out here on G+, he’s going to make something really exciting…
Judging by Zunger’s comments, anyone hoping for Google + to win an audience through offensive and controversial images may be out of luck:
And fear not: we aren’t about to become a den of infamy. This isn’t that kind of place, and we don’t intend for it to be.
(Image credit: Jscott [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons)