In a move that is deeply decent and sensical, a technology company has announced that it will no longer be complicit in white supremacist hatred by pulling the plug on services for 8chan, a website that has become the stomping grounds for mass murderers.
The Washington Post reports that an announcement from CloudFlare came shortly after a four-page word-vomit against immigrants was posted to 8chan by a person who identified himself as the El Paso, Texas gunman who killed 22 people and wounded more than two dozen on Saturday.
“We reluctantly tolerate content that we find reprehensible, but we draw the line at platforms that have demonstrated they directly inspire tragic events and are lawless by design,” Matthew Prince, CEO of Cloudflare, said in a blog post where he also called the site “a cesspool of hate.”
“8chan has crossed that line,” Prince continued. “It will therefore no longer be allowed to use our services.” The site went dark about 3 a.m. on Sunday.
The New York Times reports that the El Paso gunman was not the first mass shooter to use 8chan as the forum to drop their deadly diatribes:
In recent months, 8chan has become a go-to resource for violent extremists. At least three mass shootings this year — including the mosque killings in Christchurch, New Zealand, and the synagogue shooting in Poway, Calif. — have been announced in advance on the site, often accompanied by racist writings that seem engineered to go viral on the internet.
Fredrick Brennan was reportedly high on psychedelic mushrooms when he founded the site in 2013 as a less restrictive alternative to 4chan. Brennan told the New York Times that he knew 8chan was involved when he heard about the El Paso shooting.
“Whenever I hear about a mass shooting, I say, ‘All right, we have to research if there’s an 8chan connection,’” said Brennan.
Unfortunately, he turned out to be right. The Times reports that Brennan stopped working with the site’s current owner last year, and has called on 8chan to be 86-ed.
“Shut the site down,” Brennan said to the Times. “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.”
The Times reports that the site became prominent after “GamerGate”—a cabal of misogynist video game players who came to the site after being kicked off of 4chan. It notes:
Since GamerGate, 8chan has become a catchall website for internet-based communities whose behavior gets them evicted from more mainstream sites. It hosts one of the largest gatherings of supporters of QAnon, who claim that there is an international bureaucracy plotting against the Trump administration. And it has been an online home for “incels,” men who lament being “involuntarily celibate,” and other fringe movements.
Jim Watkins and his son Ronald have run the site since 2015; Brennan left the monster he created in December, where users glorify mass shooters with verbiage like “high scores” to refer to the death tolls.
And although Brennan celebrated CloudFlare’s decision via Tweet, it will most likely not stop the site from continuing.
The Post notes that when CloudFlare kicked neo-Nazi site the Daily Stormer off its network two years ago, the neo-Nazi site found another company to serve its network and returned to the Web in all of their white supremacist glory shortly thereafter.