Chris Poole-founded, Lerer-backed start-up Canv.as is still in private beta but nudging toward the spotlight with new features and public threads–still, the image editor/meme generator can’t shake its connection to its founder’s widely-loathed and misunderstood first start-up, 4chan. “Canvas isn’t a ‘4chan-related’ site. 4chan is 4chan. Canvas is Canvas,” the company tweeted last week at a user who complained that it was “heavily censored” and “we have to behave like school kids.”
“I understand Canvas is trying to stay away from turning into 4chan and playing it safe because they’re new, etc blablabla,” one user wrote on Tumblr after a Hitler joke was deleted. “But I can’t believe they deleted this for breaking the Code of Conduct. Seriously? So one can’t even make a joke about Hitler or Jews? I don’t see anything hateful or hate-inducing about this post. Fucking USA PC hyperobsession. I am disappoint.”
“4chan has an incredible history, culture, language and identity… We want Canvas to have its own culture, identity and language,” Mr. Poole told Epoca in an interview, which was translated to Portugese and by Google Translate back to English. “We want people from 4chan, but different people will create a new identity and culture together. The community began with 100 people who we invited and now there are tens of thousands of people. It’s like 4chan, which started with 20 people in a chat room, and today, seven and a half years later, has 12 million users. We want to create a space, and continue to improve this space, and work with the community to make it a better place to play with media and hanging out with friends.”
Canv.as hasn’t done much promotion so far, but recently the company has been seeking more attention. It’s pushing popular threads like Draw Me as a Video Game Character, gave out an extra five invites to every user, and added “sharing stickers” to easily publish content to Facebook, Twitter, and StumbleUpon, on top of features like groups and enhanced image editing tools. The site still requires a Facebook login, which discourages some of the rowdier 4channers from swarming it to post Hitler, porn or other NSFW content. (Mr. Poole hasn’t entirely rejected 4chan; there is a 4chan topic on Canv.as).