4chan is a Federal Honeypot

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Warning! The following may feature disinfo, psy-ops, or other infohazards created by the CIA. Proceed with caution.

This page is a TRVTHNVKE.

Some learning-disabled people praise 4chan because they think than 4channers are ebin skillful master trolls. In reality, 4chan is a Federal Honeypot.

In early 2008, the owner/administrator of 4chan Moot was approached by representatives af the Arizona ICAC in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Justice and federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement, following a year-long investigation into the site.

Of concern to the DOJ, ICE, and AZ-ICAC representatives was the routine trafficking of Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) images and links on 4chan's /b/ board among others. Conventional procedure in CSA trafficking investigations calls for the unannounced seizure of the offending website's server(s) and forensic examination of its HTTP daemon and forum software's log files. After (or while) suspect IP addresses and corresponding time stamps are isolated, subpoenas are sent to the appropriate ISPs, compelling them to divulge account holders' information.

It was explained to Moot that law enforcement was initially prepared to move against him with the seizure of his servers, but that 4chan's rapid content purging system and enormous user population (14,000 unique visitors per hour, and 10,000,000+ per month) would have rendered conventional CSA investigation techniques difficult. CSA postings were "drive-by" in nature and quick to expire. If seized, 4chan's servers would yield only trivial criminal evidence of those particular CSA postings which were active (or forensically recoverable) at the time of the seizure itself.

Moot was presented an ultimatum: Seizure of his servers anyway (and the possibility of charges being brought against him for his having never reported the CSA posters on his site to NCMEC), or cooperation. The way the information came down, two agents were actively standing by in the data center ready to haul 4chan's servers away the moment he refused. Needless to say, Moot decided that cooperation was in his best interest.

With me so far? The result of this cooperation bloomed into the following changes quietly made to 4chan's servers which have now been in place for some time:

  • 4chan threads no longer truly “expire.” Instead, they are “archived” by virtue of becoming web browser-accessible only through an alternate web server.
  • Beginning shortly after the cooperation between 4chan's administration and law enforcement began, Moot was advised by the law enforcement agencies working the case to stay off of /b/ completely. Later he was ordered to remove all "civilian" moderators/janitors from /b/ and to hand the /b/ moderation accounts exclusively to the law enforcement agents working 4chan - so they could more quickly trap and take down CSA materials. This is why you cannot apply to be a janitor on /b/ when applications open.
  • Finally, 4chan's servers were effectively seized. They were moved out of the old data center in Los Angeles and placed into a nearby facility directly controlled by an unnamed federal law enforcement agency. There's now just plain gigabit Ethernet fiber between 4chan's current tier 1 transit provider and the 4chan servers inside that facility, with no commercial hosting provider involved to speak of. This I have no further information on or what the implications are.

So there you have it. Because conventional approaches to combating CSA trafficking were thought fruitless against 4chan, the administrator was "convinced" to cooperate with a sting operation.

If you had been ignorant up to this point, you now have one less excuse.

See also