Federal authorities are looking into a suspicious thread on the anonymous message board 4chan that appears to include someone with similar intentions to today's unnamed shooter who killed at least 10 people in Oregon, according to The New York Times. The thread, archived here, shows an anonymous user on 4chan board /r9k/ advising others, "Don’t go to school tomorrow if you are in the northwest," late in the day on September 30th. The identity of the shooter who attacked students this morning at Umpqua Community College in Roseberg, Oregon, remains unknown, though it is confirmed police shot and killed the 26-year-old man.
It is not yet clear whether the anonymous 4chan user and the shooter are the same person. 4chan has become well-known as a haven for some of the worst behavior on the internet. In fact, many users egged on the original poster and some even gave him tips on how to carry out a massacre. Following news of the shooting, the thread takes a twisted turn as participants realize the gravity of a potential link between the group conversation and the killings. Nonetheless, the nature of the site makes quick verification near impossible.
No further evidence suggests the 4chan user and the shooter are the same person
Mass shootings have become a vehicle for those seeking nationwide attention, and social media has played a crucial role in that process. Through photos on Instagram, Facebook status updates, and anonymous postings on message boards, shooters have increasingly begun leaving digital breadcrumbs for authorities, friends, and family to follow in the aftermath of such a tragedy. Yet more so than other social media channels, 4chan has become a popular place for internet trolls who enjoy riling up the community with hoax statements.
If the 4chan user turns out to have been the shooter, prefacing his crime with a warning and seeking encouragement online, it will be one of the most disturbing events yet to happen on the platform.
Update October 2nd, 8:45AM ET: The shooter is now believed to be 26, not 20 as first reported.