Massive anonymous bulletin board 2channel has played an important role on the Japanese Web for 15 years (mostly on the dark side). Riddled with gossip and rumors, the site has always kept its ownership vague to avoid legal conflict, but recently a longtime background supporter seems to be trying to shake things up — and he's an American.

2channel (2ch) is Japan's largest bulletin-board service, founded in 1999 by Hiroyuki Nishimura. There are boards for every conceivable subject. Because the site allows users to post anonymously, it became hugely popular as a place to vent without the usual pressure of Japan's strict societal mores. The concept was even exported to other countries, such as with 4chan in the United States.

The new developments began after 2channel recovered from an outage on Feb. 19. An admin-only thread was created under the name "Jim," with a message that began, "I have secured the 2ch servers."