On Sunday, Cloudflare CEO Matthew Price announced the security services company terminated its contract with controversial forum 8chan on August 4, midnight PST. Without the firm’s infrastructural protection, websites like 8chan are vulnerable to directed denial of service attacks (DDoS).
The executive said he made the call to cut ties with the site because it’s “lawless and that lawlessness has caused multiple tragic death.” Price further noted the gunman who killed 20 people in El Paso Texas this weekend drew inspiration from the platform.
As a result of Cloudflare’s rebuke, 8chan has gone dark.
A Common Factor in Mass Slaughter
In a blog post, Price also noted that 8Chan is connected to other recent mass shootings. Indeed, the terrorist who killed 49 people in Christchurch, New Zealand in March allegedly posted a manifesto to the imageboard before watching his attack. Moreover, the El Paso shooter reportedly posted his own screed to the site wherein he referenced being influenced by the Christchurch massacre.
The executive also mentioned the man accused of committing the April armed assault on a Poway, California synagogue posted an open letter to 8chan before killing one person and injuring three others. As it served as a common factor in all three mass shootings, Price dubbed the forum a “cesspool of hate.”
In the past, Cloudflare defended its association with the site saying it didn’t moderate its clients’ projects. On Sunday, the firm’s general counsel told CNN, “We really don’t have anything to do with content.” However, Price asserted recent events made it impossible for the service to continue supporting the imageboard.
All’s Well that Ends Well?
Matthew Price also stated that he didn’t expect that ending Cloudflare’s contract with 8chan will destroy the site. The executive explained that when the service ended its contract with white supremacist hub The Daily Stormer in 2017, it became a client of a rival web security service.
Consequently, Price believed the same thing would happen with 8chan. As such, the executive called on tech companies and lawmakers to come together to more effectively handle lawless platforms.
Ultimately, the Cloudflare’s chief executive was correct about 8chan’s finding a new services host. On Monday, a company called Epik became the site’s new registrar. However, later in the day, Voxility, the company that leases Epik its server space, terminated its service agreement. Consequently, the controversial forum went offline Monday afternoon.
The Verge reports the corporation had a previous content hosting issue with its web services client. “As soon as we were notified of the content that Epik was hosting, we made the decision to totally ban them,” said Voxility business development VP Maria Sirbu.
As of this writing, 8chan is still offline.
Origin of 8chan
Software designer Fredrick Brennan founded 8chan in 2012 in response to perceived encroaching Internet censorship. Accordingly, the imageboard only prohibits the sharing of U.S. copyright-protected content. The site became popular after it started attracting banned subscribers of rival forum 4chan.
Since going live, the largely unmoderated site has become a hub for everything from child pornography to online harassment to QAnon conspiracy theories. Because of its harmful content hosting policy, Google removed the forum from its search index in 2015. Besides, the New York Times labeled 8chan a “recruitment platform for violent white nationalists” because it hosts scores of extremely anti-Semitic, racist, sexist, and xenophobic threads.
Indeed, the Southern Poverty Law Center reported 8chan featured threads and posts enthusiastically supporting the El Paso shooter in the aftermath of the attack.
After 8chan became associated with racially motivated mass shootings, Brennan expressed regret for creating the site. In a recent interview with the New York Times, he called for the forum to be shut down. “It’s not doing the world any good. It’s a complete negative to everybody except the users that are there,” said the founder. “And you know what? It’s a negative to them, too. They just don’t realize it.”
Unfortunately, Brennan turned over control of the imageboard to Jim Watkins, a U.S. Army veteran who currently lives in the Philippines. As of this writing, Watkins has refused press requests for interviews regarding the El Paso shooting. However, in 2016, he told Splinter he had no problem with white supremacist taking over his site.
While the loathsome forum may find a new host in the future, the moral arc of the universe bent toward justice today.