8chan represents free speech or the bottom of the barrel of the internet, depending on your point of view. Its users cherish the lack of moderation on the site, one of the few popular sites left in which users can post just about anything they want anonymously without fear of being blocked, censored, or banned. Its detractors, of which there are a growing number following the El Paso mass shooting, say it’s a blight that takes freedom of speech to its ugliest extreme.
Cloudflare announced tonight they’d be dropping 8Chan as a client, leaving the site in internet limbo. The site is currently down and their Twitter account says it will be having problems staying up for the next 24-48 hours while they seek a solution.
Some of you might’ve read the @Cloudflare news already. They're dropping 8chan. https://t.co/FQJrv9wzvn
There might be some downtime in the next 24-48 hours while we find a solution (that includes our email so timely compliance with law enforcement requests may be affected).
— 8chan (8ch.net) (@infinitechan) August 5, 2019
The free-speech offshoot of 4chan has been the home for multiple “manifestos” as well as the source of inspiration for tragedies like El Paso, the Christchurch shooting, and Poway synagogue shooting. El Paso was the last straw for Cloudflare.
The mass shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio are horrific tragedies. In the case of the El Paso shooting, the suspected terrorist gunman appears to have been inspired by the forum website known as 8chan. Based on evidence we’ve seen, it appears that he posted a screed to the site immediately before beginning his terrifying attack on the El Paso Walmart killing 20 people.
Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident. 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. 8chan has repeatedly proven itself to be a cesspool of hate.
8chan is among the more than 19 million Internet properties that use Cloudflare’s service. We just sent notice that we are terminating 8chan as a customer effective at midnight tonight Pacific Time. The rationale is simple: they 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.
This is not unexpected. 8chan has been receiving a lot of criticism lately. Even its founder has called for the site to be shut down.
“Shut the site down,” 8chan founder Fredrick Brennan said in an interview. “It’s not doing the world any good. It’s a complete negative to everybody except the users that are there. And you know what? It’s a negative to them, too. They just don’t realize it.”
I’m a big fan of free speech, but I also recognize it can go too far when left completely unchecked. There is speech that’s illegal for a reason. Threats and negative rhetoric lead to action and hatred. 8chan represents this.
We are currently forming the American Conservative Movement. If you are interested in learning more, we will be sending out information in a few weeks.
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