Users of 4chan are warning about a so-called beta rebellion, with many taking to the image-sharing site to promise more bloodshed in the wake of last week’s Oregon shooting.
The alleged shooter, Chris Harper-Mercer, reportedly posted a warning on 4chan before he opened fire at Umpqua Community College in Oregon, killing nine people and wounding nine others. In a message posted hours before the shooting, Mercer warned other users to stay away from schools if they lived in the northwest.
The post read,
“Some of you guys are alright. Don’t go to school tomorrow if you are in the northwest.
happening thread will be posted tomorrow morning
so long space robots”
What followed was a long chain in which other users egged Mercer on, encouraging him to go for a large kill count.
“I suggest you enter a classroom and tell people that you will take them as hostages. Make everyone get in one corner and then open fire.
Make sure that there is no way that someone can disarm you as it is possible. I suggest you carry a knife on your belt as last resort if someone is holding your gun.”
This would not be the first time that a 4chan user has used the board to share in their violent crimes. Last November, a man identified as David Kalac posted a picture that appeared to be a dead woman, naked from the waist up and with strangle marks on her neck.
“Turns out it’s way harder to strangle someone to death than it looks in the movies,” the first post read.
The picture turned out to be real, and the Port Orchard Independent in Washington reported that police found a body that matched the one seen on 4chan. Kalac stole the woman’s car and escaped, taking to 4chan to promise more bloodshed, but he was ultimately captured by police without incident.
That case appears to be different than the current talk of a beta rebellion, but both strike to the quest for attention that many of the 4chan users seek, which coupled with the anonymity of the site allows them to post what they wish.
Now a number of copycats have followed suit after Mercer, posting other threats of violence on 4chan in what they call a beta rebellion. In many internet corners, the term beta is used to describe someone who is a loner, without many friends and struggling to fit into society (the opposite of alpha male).
— Her Campus (@HerCampus) October 6, 2015
Some of those threats have been very specific, Salon noted.
“The first of our kind has struck fear into the hearts of America. His cries have been heard, even by the president,” one post read continuing, “This is only the beginning. The Beta Rebellion has begun. Soon, more of our brothers will take up arms to become martyrs in this revolution. On October fifth, at 1pm Central time, a fellow robot will take up arms at a university near Philadelphia. His cries will be heard, his victims will cover in fear, and the strength of the Union will decay a little more.”
Though there was ultimately no violence in Philadelphia, the post prompted the FBI’s Philadelphia Field Office to issue a statement and notified local colleges and universities.
“We encourage students, faculty, and employees at area colleges and universities to follow the guidance of their campus security officials. The FBI will continue to work with our federal, state, and local law enforcement partners to investigate threats of violence, and, as always, we ask the public to report suspicious activity to law enforcement.”
There have been other threats posted as well, with users imagining the beta rebellion as a chance to bring bloodshed and match’s Chris Harper-Mercer’s kill count.
While many have played off the beta rebellion as a joke by 4chan users, many others are not taking it that way. The posts after Chris Harper-Mercer’s threat seemed to encourage him, and could have contributed to the violence last week. Others encouraged the subsequent poster to “try to beat [Virginia tech shooter Seung-Hui] Cho’s highscore kill them all make them suffer.” The FBI is reportedly investigating Mercer’s post and the subsequent threats.
[Image via Imgur, Myspace/Chris Harper-Mercer via Heavy.com]