Website infrastructure and security company Cloudflare will no longer protect the servers for the hate forum that radicalized the gunman who killed 20 people in El Paso, Texas.
Cloudflare, which provides security services to roughly 19 million online properties (including Grit Post) will no longer protect anonymous image board 8Chan from Direct Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks beginning Monday morning, according to a statement posted on the company’s website.
“The rationale is simple: they have proven themselves to be lawless and that lawlessness has caused multiple tragic deaths,” the statement read. “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.”
We just sent notice we are terminating service for 8chan. There comes a time when enough is enough. But this isn't the end. We need to have a broader conversation about addressing the root causes of hate online. https://t.co/ZsctDpswM5
— Matthew Prince 🌥 (@eastdakota) August 5, 2019
Cloudflare made it clear that while it doesn’t like “playing the role of content arbiter” and provides website security to nearly all who want it regardless of a website’s content, the company decided to terminate 8Chan’s service out of a devotion to the “Rule of Law.” Cloudflare’s statement added that while it had previously done the same to online hate site The Daily Stormer, the site was still able to get security services from one of the company’s competitors. Cloudflare encouraged everyone reading the statement to consider the role everyone plays in solving the problem of hate-filled ideologies spreading online.
“While removing 8chan from our network takes heat off of us, it does nothing to address why hateful sites fester online. It does nothing to address why mass shootings occur. It does nothing to address why portions of the population feel so disenchanted they turn to hate,” the company stated. “In taking this action we’ve solved our own problem, but we haven’t solved the Internet’s.”
8Chan — which calls itself “the Darkest Reaches of the Internet” — became famous after the perpetrator of the mass shooting at a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand livestreamed the attack which killed 50 people and posted a link to the livestream on 8Chan, along with a manifesto. The El Paso shooter also posted a manifesto of his own on 8Chan, in which he wrote “In general, I support the Christchurch shooter and his manifesto.” (Grit Post has reviewed the manifesto, but will not link to it in this article.)
Cloudflare will cease its services to 8Chan at midnight Pacific Time on Monday morning (3 AM Eastern Time). As of this writing, 8Chan is still online. A thread on 8Chan dubbed “it’s over” (Grit Post will not link to 8Chan in this article) included posts from members lamenting the site’s likely demise. However, members are still committed to the site’s mission, and already have a “bunker” site — 08Chan — ready to go in the event that 8Chan is taken down. 08Chan promises to be just like 8Chan, except members have to access it through its hidden Tor server after installing dark web software and typing an encrypted address in their URL bar.
“I hope 8chan doesn’t disappear. You guys are my only friends and without this place I would be well and truly alone with nothing to look forward to or distract me from this nightmarish existence,” one anonymous user wrote.
“There are countless other DDoS protection services available. Literally nothing is going to change, outside of maybe a few days of slowness while the pigfarmer gets the new service setup,” another user responded.
(Grit Post’s editorial policy is to not publish the names or likenesses of mass shooters, in order to deny them the notoriety they often seek. We encourage all other outlets to do the same.)
Carl Gibson is a politics contributor for Grit Post. His work has previously been published in The Guardian, The Washington Post, The Houston Chronicle, Al-Jazeera America, and NPR, among others. Follow him on Twitter @crgibs or send him an email at carl at gritpost dot com.