Publisher THQ Nordic conducted an Ask Me Anything (AMA) session on 8chan, the infamous message board that’s a hotbed for harassment, racism, child pornography, and other hateful content. That attempt at promotion prompted widespread backlash. After responding to a number of provocative and disturbing questions, the company issued an apology from THQ Nordic Twitter account.
Earlier today, the company tweeted from its official account that it was “doing an 8chan AMA and we have no idea why. Come join us!” The AMA was set to kick off at 12:30 p.m. ET on the site’s video games board, with PR and marketing director Philipp Brock and business and product development director Reinhard Pollice answering users’ questions.
The announcement immediately prompted backlash from Twitter users and games industry members aware of 8chan’s history of hosting child pornography, racism, and other explicit posts. 8chan was popularized after 4chan’s moderators began cracking down on Gamergate discussion on its image boards at the end of 2014.
During the AMA, Brock and Pollice interacted with numerous 8chan users who solicited opinions on salacious drawings, including several pieces of art that skirt the line of child pornography,
Onw egregious example includes an anonymous user asking, “Where the big tiddie lolis at,” attaching a drawing of two blushing girls whose breasts are cupped by a buff guy behind them. “You got them already we’d say,” Brock replied.
As backlash continued on Twitter, Brock and Pollice tried to explain their thinking behind the AMA in another tweet from the THQ Nordic account.
“The opportunity was here and we took it, we got approached [sic] in a very friendly and polite manner and were assured, said person (shoutout to Mark) will take care of the nasty stuff. so, here we are,” it reads.
But as the thread continued to elicit a negative reaction on Twitter, THQ Nordic tweeted out a formal statement of apology from Brock.
“I personally agreed to this AMA without doing my proper due diligence to understand the history and the controversy of the site,” the statement says. “I do not condone child pornography, white supremacy, or racism in any shape or form.
“I am terribly sorry for the short-sightedness of my (!) decision, and promise to be far more vigorous in my assessment of these activities in the future. This was not about being edgy, this blew up and I very much regret to have done it in the first place.”
In an email to Polygon, Brock added, “This was my idea alone. I was pretty much overwhelmed by the time the twitter feed started to blow up and I kind of was busy sending emails and making calls, hence the other guys stayed in the thread to answer the questions that came in, where we focused 95% on the gaming-related questions.”
The apology hasn’t satisfied many of the critics who questioned THQ Nordic’s decision to host an AMA on 8chan. Googling the site’s name, for example, immediately highlights its history with child pornography, as well as connections to GamerGate, swatting attempts, and the alt-right — and references to it as “the world’s most vile website.”
The thread remains live on 8chan.