Creator of 8chan calls to ‘shut it down’ after El Paso suspect used message boards to post hate-filled manifesto

Creator of 8chan calls to ‘shut it down’ after El Paso suspect used message boards to post hate-filled manifesto
Computer lock (Source: Gray News)

(WAFB) - One of the darkest corners of the web went offline Monday after internet infrastructure company Cloudflare pulled support for the website used by the suspected gunman in El Paso to post a hate-filled manifesto.

“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,” Matthew Prince, Cloudflare CEO wrote in a blog post.

Cloudflare provides cybersecurity and other services to websites that help them to stay online.

8chan is a forum created in 2013 by Fredrick Brennan as an alternative to 4chan, a message board popular with gamers. 8chan promised less moderation of controversial topics and images that were being removed from 4chan. As such, 8chan has become host to child pornography, extremist views and imagery, racism and hate under the banner of free speech.

In 2015, the domain was banned from Google search results for “suspected child pornography.”

Brennan removed himself from the website in 2015 and is now saying the site should be shut down.

“Shut it down," Brennan told the New York Times after Saturday’s Walmart massacre. "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.”

Before being knocked offline Sunday, a banner at the top of 8chan’s home page read, “Welcome to 8chan, the Darkest Reaches of the Internet.”

8chan was offline for around six hours worldwide before switching to BitMitigate, another security firm based in Washington. BitMitigate stepped in to get the Daily Stormer back online in 2017 when Cloudflare pulled its services from the neo-Nazi website. Today, the Daily Stormer is still available and “still disgusting,” Prince said.

BitMitigate’s website says it has a “proven commitment to liberty." 8chan’s site administrator tweeted a line from BitMitigate’s terms of services agreement that reads, “we leave law enforcement to the experts and will not stop service to any of our clients unless by final court order.”

“They have proven themselves to be lawless and that lawlessness has caused multiple tragic deaths,” Prince wrote. "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.”

“In taking this action we’ve solved our own problem, but we haven’t solved the Internet’s.”

In the Texas border city of El Paso, a gunman opened fire Saturday morning in a shopping area packed with thousands of people during the busy back-to-school season. The attack killed 21 and wounded more than two dozen, many of them critically. Moments before, a four-page message whose author identified himself as the gunman appeared on 8chan.

At least three mass shooting this year - including the mosque killing in Christchurch, New Zealand, and the synagogue shooting in Poway, Calif. - have been announced in advance on the site, often accompanied by bigoted, hate-filled writings.

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