4chan cannot in any way, shape, or form be considered democratic. As an organizational system oriented towards total representation, public incorporation into the administrative sphere of power, and/or “mob rule,” democracy is an organizational structure practiced by a great deal of non-governmental levels. Democratic processes have been instilled in the American consciousness as the epitome of fairness: if everybody has a vote, then everybody is equal, and if everybody is equal, then everybody is happy. Or at least, so the thought process goes.
4chan is an online space where anybody can post an image with a body of text. There is no organizational structure or method of administration in many of the website’s boards. Notably, the “Random” board, /b/, has a “no rules” policy, which applies to administrators and moderators, which may often result in bans and suspensions or little to no reason at all. There is very little accountability when it comes to power on the massive networking website.
And therein lies 4chan’s effectiveness as an activist coalition of trolls and internet sleuths. The lack of any clear organizational structure ensures a quaisi-anarchistic space with the capacity to host millions, if not billions, of interacions between individals and communities. The Guardian once summarized the 4chan community as “lunatic, juvenile … brilliant, ridiculous and alarming.”
Since the election of President Donald J. Trump, dating back to late 2016, 4Chan has received a sudden increase in traffic. Alexa‘s site ranking feature and shows that the forum went from a humble 450th in the world to a soaring185th in the span of under a year.
There is power in numbers, or so the saying goes, but the extremely chaotic and loud nature of 4Chan goes to prove that such is reality. Although unity is rare within the dark recesses of the anonymous image board, when users find a cause to rally behind, the momentum provided is astronomical.