Canvas – nothing more than adolescent image mashups?

Canvas was touted as being primarily a social network that centered on anonymity. After receiving one of only 4 000 private beta invites, I was pretty excited to see what all the fuss was about.

Scenes of clandestine operations orchestrated through the social network ran through my mind, and with the use of social networking in the revolutions taking place throughout North Africa, this seemed to be perfect timing for a new network from the creators of 4Chan.

All of these scenes came crashing to the ground as I created my account and was taken to the homepage.

I had no idea what to think of what I saw in front of me. This was definitely not the secret social network I was expecting, and differed wholly from most social networks out there.

As it turns out, Canvas focuses on images. Someone posts an image, and people edit that image and post a reply. That’s it, really.

As the site is still heavily in beta (no profile options whatsoever – username, password, email address changing) not much is going on. Other than posting replies, you can drag icons onto pictures representing your view of them, icons like “Wtf”, “Lol” and “#1” as a rating system of sorts.

I can see why this could be addictive, as there are some gems that have been uploaded and remixed. This addiction will primarily be adopted by adolescent teens, and that’s the target market. Canvas is 4chan on steroids, and with some less “incriminating” material.

4chan has become infamous over the past few years for a variety of reasons. First, it was the creation and perpetuation of various internet memes – Lolcats and “Fail” pictures being among the most widely received. These pictures were, and still are, widely circulated throughout the internet and via emails – and where would we be without lolcats. Secondly, and on a more serious note, the group Anonymous originated from the forum.

Anonymous became widely known when they attacked Scientology for oppressing internet freedom of speech, and then made the front page of newspapers everywhere after the Wikileaks fallout and their DDOS attacks on various corporates.

The actions of Anonymous have been received with mixed feelings, but generally they are regarded as defenders of free speech, even though their methods are questioned. So the question stands: will Canvas become the breeding ground for another Anonymous? Or help to strengthen the current movement? With the focus on keeping accounts and posts anonymous on the new social network, this could very well be the case.

With the gross disdain that all 4chan members have had for advertising, I have no idea how “Moot” will pay back the investment of US$625 000 Canvas received. I do however think the site will become immensely popular, as to whether it will be another 4chan, getting 70 000 to 90 000 unique visitors per day, remains to be seen.

Either way, Canvas seems ready to make an impact in internet life, if not through memes alone, through its fostering of anonymity.

You can request an invite at



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