An anonymous post to the notorious 4chan imageboard on Saturday appears to have provided details of Jeffrey Epstein's death before the first news reports of the disgraced financier's suspected suicide. The 4chan post, which was earlier reported by Buzzfeed News, was published more than a half hour before the initial news reports that Epstein, who was held on charges of sex trafficking, was dead.
Epstein "died an hour ago of hanging, cardiac arrest," according to the post, which was published at 8:16 a.m., about 40 minutes before an ABC reporter tweeted that Epstein was dead. The post included an image of , a cartoon frog that has been adopted by the far right.
In subsequent posts, the author of the post appears to have added further information about procedures that were used to revive Epstein, suggesting the poster may have been a first responder or medical professional.
The New York Fire Department "reviewed the alleged information and determined it did not come from the department," the department said in a statement. 4chan didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.
Imageboards, which long been dark backwaters of the internet, have become the focus of public attention in the wake of a spate of hate-motivated killings. A man who allegedly killed 22 people in an El Paso, Texas, Walmart is believed to have posted a racist manifesto to 8chan, another imageboard, just before the attack. The gunman who killed 51 people in two New Zealand mosque shootings in March was linked to an 87-page white nationalist screed that also appeared on 8chan. Links to a hate-filled open letter were also posted to 8chan by the person who shot a synagogue outside of San Diego in April. 8chan has since been taken offline and its owner, Jim Watkins, has been requested to .
Over the weekend, a man who claimed to have shot a mosque in Oslo posted links to a Facebook stream on Endchan, another imageboard, before the attack, according to the site's operators. The operators took the main version of the site offline.
Like many forums on the internet, imageboards range in topic from mundane to niche and fringe. Anime, junk food and porn are popular subjects for the participants. Because users can post anonymously, many imageboards have become gathering places for people spreading hate or extremism. One 4chan board dedicated to politics, /pol/, is filled with racist language and anti-immigrant messages.
On Wednesday, a letter written by Brandan Tarrant, the suspect in the New Zealand shootings, was posted to 4chan, apparently by confirmed the letter's authenticity.. Corrections officials in New Zealand
Originally published Aug. 13
Update, Aug. 14: Adds news that a letter written by the suspect in the New Zealand mosque shootings was posted to 4chan.