Mr. Chris Poole, the founder of controversial online message board, 4Chan, announced Monday that he has joined Google. The news was later confirmed via Twitter by the VP of Streams, Photos and Sharing at Google, Mr. Bradley Horowitz, who expressed his satisfaction with the development and welcomed Mr. Poole to the company. According to reports, Mr. Poole is being hired to work on Google+, and is expected to bring his significant experience and expertise at running a massively successful message board to breathe fresh life into the struggling social network. Of course, at this stage there’s no official confirmation about either Mr. Poole’s job description or his designation at the company, so it remains to be seen how this whole thing plays out over the next few days and weeks.
The top-level management at Google may have accepted Mr. Poole with open arms, but many have openly questioned the necessity of involving someone who has been a fairly contentious figure thus far. For those not familiar with 4Chan, it’s a message board where users are free to express their opinions anonymously. The website and its founder, Mr. Chris Poole, have faced severe criticisms over the years for not doing enough to prevent disagreeable activities and posts on the message board, but the founder has steadfastly protested his innocence citing freedom of speech for all users. While 4Chan has made exceptions to its own rules over the years to remove particularly distasteful boards from its site, activists maintain that the site could do more to clean up its act.
With netizens wondering whether Google+ will go the 4Chan way with Mr. Poole’s involvement, at least one prominent lead engineer at the company has now come out strongly against any such suggestions and has unequivocally denied there’s any chance of that happening. Mr. Yonatan Zunger, the company’s chief architect for social, has posted a detailed rebuttal of accusations that Google+ is in danger of going the 4Chan way. He also came to the defense of Mr. Poole, who he described as somebody who comes across as “quite thoughtful about issues of social dynamics and interactions”. According to him, “Poole is by no means a troll or a troll-curator, and I actually think that with the rather different crowd of people who hang out here on G+, he’s going to make something really exciting.”
Mr. Zunger also sought to soothe the nerves of all concerned Google+ users, saying that the social network will not degenerate into “a den of infamy” any time soon. “The things that 4chan became (in)famous for grew rather organically out of the system, out of the people who ended up congregating there and the ways they used the tools. … This isn’t that kind of place, and we don’t intend for it to be”. It is obviously difficult at this stage to say whether that assertion will suitably address the concerns of millions of users, but the top management at the helm of the Mountain View, California-based tech giant will certainly be hoping that he will be able to implement the changes required to further popularize the social networking site.