The founder of 2channel--the massively popular Japanese message board that inspired 4chan—is in some serious legal trouble thanks to the activities of his site’s users.
Japanese media are reporting that Tokyo police have charged 35-year-old Hiroyuki Nishimura with aiding and abetting criminals in violating the country’s narcotics laws. All because 2channel moderators didn’t delete a single post.
The Metropolitan Police have had it out for 2channel since at least 2010, claiming users of the site use it as a cover for illicit drug deals. According to the blog Japan Probe, the investigation focuses on a single post from 2010 that used code words from MDMA, marijuana, and cocaine. Police had apparently urged 2channel moderators to delete anything that promotes illegal activity—but the site sees more than 1.8 million posts a day.
In a 2008 profile, Wired’s Lisa Katayama called Nishimura the “the most influential figure on the Japanese Web.” He created 2channel in 1999 while still a student at the University of Central Arkansas, and it quickly rose to become the dominant force on the Japanese Internet. But the platform’s darker side—which has included stalking incidents and suicide pacts allegedly carried out by users—has made it a magnet for outrage.
By 2008 Nishimura had been hit with dozens of libel suits and owed millions of dollars in penalties, none of which he’d paid
"If the verdict mandates deleting things, I'll do it," he told Katayama. "I just haven't complied with demands to pay money. Would a cell phone carrier feel responsible when somebody receives a threatening phone call?"
If Japanese prosecutors succeed in their case against Nishimura, it appears the answer to that question is “yes.”
Photo by Joichi ito/Wikimedia