Web infrastructure provider Cloudflare has pulled the plug on 8chan, the message board that has become a petri dish of far-right hate speech, saying that while “we reluctantly tolerate content that we find reprehensible, we draw the line at platforms that have demonstrated they directly inspire tragic events and are lawless by design.”
The killer behind the massacre that left 51 Muslims dead in Christchurch, New Zealand in March, the suspect in a synagogue shooting in California and the suspect in this weekend’s murders of 20 at an El Paso, Texas Walmart, are all understood to have posted white nationalist screeds on the platform, which was founded in 2013.
San Francisco-based Cloudflare, which underpins over 19 million websites, prides itself on a generally libertarian approach to hosting. (CEO Matthew Prince some years ago wrote: “A website is speech. It is not a bomb. There is no imminent danger it creates and no provider has an affirmative obligation to monitor and make determinations about the theoretically harmful nature of speech a site may contain.”)
The decision comes after the site’s founder, software developer Fredrick Brennan told the Washington Post that the site should be shut down: “The board is a receptive audience for domestic terrorists” he said, as posters on the forum urged each other to create “OC” (original content) that glorifies the attacker’s message.
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
“Another Disgusting Site”
Cloudflare two years ago terminated its DDoS mitigation services for “another disgusting site” the Daily Stormer, which rapidly popped back online with a rival host, and Cloudflare’s CEO in a post late Sunday acknowledged that this was likely to happen with 8chan too. He added: “We continue to feel incredibly uncomfortable about playing the role of content arbiter and do not plan to exercise it often.”
“At some level firing 8chan as a customer is easy. They are uniquely lawless and that lawlessness has contributed to multiple horrific tragedies. Enough is enough… We do not take this decision lightly. We’ve considered it important to provide our security services broadly to make sure as many users as possible are secure, and thereby making cyberattacks less attractive — regardless of the content of those websites.
“We reluctantly tolerate content that we find reprehensible, but we draw the line at platforms that have demonstrated they directly inspire tragic events. 8chan has crossed that line. It will therefore no longer be allowed to use our services.”