Cloudflare drops 8chan over El Paso shooter manifesto, but site doesn’t stay down long

(Photo by Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images)

Network provider Cloudflare has shut down 8chan, the website where the suspected El Paso gunman reportedly posted his hate-filled screed — but the website appears to be back up already.

The website, which bills itself as “the Darkest Reaches of the Internet,” has also been linked to the shootings at a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand and a synagogue in Poway, California.

The Poway gunman posted on 8chan before attacking the synagogue, “I’ve only been lurking here for a year and half, yet what I’ve learned here is priceless.”

Cloudfare CEO Matthew Prince issued a statement early Monday announcing that they will be terminating service for 8chan.

“They are uniquely lawless and that lawlessness has contributed to multiple horrific tragedies. Enough is enough,” Prince said, calling the decision “easy” to make.

“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 statement said. “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.”

Prince noted that while the action may take the heat off of Cloudflare, it does nothing to solve the greater problem.

“While removing 8chan from our network takes heat off of us, it does nothing to address why hateful sites fester online,” the CEO said. “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. In taking this action we’ve solved our own problem, but we haven’t solved the Internet’s.”

He also said that 8chan will likely find another provider willing to get them back online, citing the neo-Nazi site The Daily Stormer as an example.

Right on cue:

https://twitter.com/alexstamos/status/1158392795687575554?s=20

“Almost exactly two years ago we made the determination to kick another disgusting site off Cloudflare’s network: the Daily Stormer,” Prince stated. “That caused a brief interruption in the site’s operations but they quickly came back online using a Cloudflare competitor.”

Linking to the Cloudflare statement, 8chan informed its 60.5 thousand followers on Twitter that there may be “some downtime in the next 24-48 hours while we find a solution.”

Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL), the ranking Republican on the House Homeland Security Committee, issued a statement on Sunday denouncing “8chan and other fringe websites propelling young people toward violence.”

“The Homeland Security Committee has been closely tracking the accelerating pace of online radicalization,” he said. “I have made clear that hateful ideologies amplified by 8chan and other fringe websites are propelling young people toward violence before law enforcement is able to act. Yesterday’s events were yet again enabled by the echo chambers these fringe websites have created.”

Rogers spoke of steps that can be taken to reduce future violence.

“These steps include working with law enforcement and industry to develop a comprehensive strategy to detect and disrupt online terror fronts, expanding community outreach to both educate people about how radicalization occurs and find ways to to help troubled individuals early enough to stop attacks, and encouraging people to reach out to law enforcement if they see or hear something suspicious,” the lawmaker said.

For what it’s worth, 8chan founder Fredrick Brennan told the New York Times that the site should be shut down.

“Shut the site down. It’s not doing the world any good,” Brennan said. “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.”

Brennan, who founded the site as a haven for free speech, parted ways with 8chan after the Christchurch mosque shooting. The site is reportedly being run by Jim Watkins, a U.S. Army veteran, out of the Philippines.

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Tom Tillison

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