Cloudflare, a leading internet infrastructure and security website, has announced that it’s kicking 8chan off its service after the mass shooting in El Paso, Texas which killed 20 people and wounded many others. According to media reports, the alleged shooter posted a racist “manifesto” on 8chan just minutes before opening fire inside a Walmart.
8chan is a forum where ultra-right-wing cranks can share their psychopathic views about race, religion, immigration and gender relations, among other things. Prior to El Paso, 8chan was serviced and protected by Cloudflare, which ensured the site wouldn’t be taken down as a result of distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks.
In a blog post, Cloudflare CEO Matthew Prince explained the reasoning behind the company’s decision to pull the plug on 8chan, which Prince described as a “cesspool of hate.”
“Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident,” he wrote. “Nearly the same thing happened on 8chan before the terror attack in Christchurch, New Zealand. The El Paso shooter specifically referenced the Christchurch incident and appears to have been inspired by the largely unmoderated discussions on 8chan which glorified the previous massacre. In a separate tragedy, the suspected killer in the Poway, California synagogue shooting also posted a hate-filled ‘open letter’ on 8chan.”
“They [8chan] have proven themselves to be lawless and that lawlessness has caused multiple tragic deaths. Even if 8chan may not have violated the letter of the law in refusing to moderate their hate-filled community, they have created an environment that revels in violating its spirit.”
Prince also emphasized that booting websites off Cloudflare’s platform is not an easy decision to make, given the free speech implications involved. However, he stated that while his company puts up with plenty of questionable content, “we draw the line at platforms that have demonstrated they directly inspire tragic events and are lawless by design. 8chan has crossed that line. It will therefore no longer be allowed to use our services.”
None of which is to say that 8chan will suddenly vanish from the internet. Indeed, Prince points out that the site will almost certainly be picked up by another provider, just as the neo-Nazi Daily Stormer was upon being dropped by Cloudflare.
“They are no longer Cloudflare’s problem,” Prince said of the Daily Stormer, “but they remain the Internet’s problem.” Ditto for 8chan.