Universities in the Philadelphia area were on high alert today after a threat directed at them was posted on 4chan’s /r9k/ board. The anonymous threat (everything is anonymous on 4chan) deliberately called to mind the threat/warning posted on the same message board last week, the day before a gunman shot and killed eight students and one professor at Umpqua Community College in Oregon.
“The first of our kind has struck fear into the hearts of America,” the writer of the new threat declared.
His cries have been heard, even by the president. This is only the beginning. On October 5, 2015 at 1:00 PM CT, a fellow robot will take up arms against a university near Philadelphia. His cries will be heard, his victims will cower in fear, and the strength of the Union will decay a little more. …
Martyr yourself for the cause or support those who have the courage to do so. We have the chance to make the world a better place for betas everywhere.
The deadline passed without incident — as did the deadline for a similar threat directed at schools in Edinburgh. Scotland, posted shortly after the Oregon shootings — but not without shaking a lot of people up.
Now the most malevolent trolls on the /r9k/ board, knowing that they have the attention of the world, are rhapsodizing about the coming “beta rebellion,” gleefully mocking the victims of the Oregon shootings, and posting threats aimed at an assortment of schools around the world, from Texas to the Netherlands.
And so, alongside more traditional /r9k/ topics as “Post your waifu” and “DAILY REMINDER THAT ALL FEMALES ARE DECEIVING SUBHUMAN WHORES,” the board today is filled with simultaneously ridiculous and chilling messages like these:
4chan being what it is, other anons are posting ironic “threats” aimed at, among other places, the moon, Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941, and Whoville — the latter a reference to a news reporter who mistook the board’s meme mascot, a frog called Pepe, for the Grinch.
In the wake of a mass shooting that left ten people dead, this is all a good deal less than hilarious. Yes, yes, 4chan apologists, I know that the anons writing the “real threats” are most likely shitposters, like the anons joking about shooting up the moon, in that they most likely have no intention of carrying out their threats.
But at the same time it’s clear they do intend to terrorize real people with their probably fake threats. As they know well, we have to take them seriously, given that a similar threat on the same message board only a few days ago was followed by an actual, real-world massacre.
This isn’t shitposting so much as it is terrorism, a form of terrorism enabled and in some ways encouraged by 4chan’s anonymous nature.
Aside from the picture of Hitler, there’s not much deliberate irony in this discussion. These are two people discussing the future of a would-be political movement, in the wake of an act of terrorism that may be tied to the message board they are posting on. One thinks the terror caused by the shootings in Oregon will lead people to take their “issues” seriously; the second sees to think that continued violence is the only answer.
I’m not seeing a joke here.