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4chan is running out of money

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4chan screenshot

The infamous message board 4chan is struggling to stay afloat and will have to make changes to reduce costs, the site’s owner wrote in a post on Sunday. "4chan can't afford infrastructure costs, network fee, servers cost, CDN and etc, now," writes Hiroyuki Nisimura, who bought the site from its founder last year.

Nisimura says ads haven’t been effective enough to support the site, nor have subscriptions offering additional features. "We had tried to keep 4chan as is. But I failed," Nisimura writes. "I am sincerely sorry."

Parts of 4chan may have to close

There are three options for 4chan to survive going forward, as far as Nisimura sees it: sell more subscriptions, include "much more" — and potentially even malicious — ads, or cut traffic to the site in half. That might be done by closing message boards, slowing down the site, or reducing the size of images that can be posted.

The changes could have a real impact on the culture of the site, which has long been almost entirely unregulated — for better or, often, worse. 4chan is known as the progenitor of countless memes, but also as home to racism, sexism, and otherwise vile discussions; recently, the site has been linked to the start of both Gamergate, a campaign generally focused on harassing women online, and the release of stolen nude photos of actresses.

Needless to say, the disappearance of 4chan could have a big impact on internet culture and many would not be sad to see it go. But it’s not totally clear how dire the situation is yet. Nisimura makes it sound bad (his post is titled "Winter is coming"), but he also proposes changes to save the site. Meanwhile, another infamous name — Martin Shkreli — says he’s interested in buying 4chan; he’s in touch with Nisimura, so maybe we’ll see how that remarkably bad combination turns out.