Cloudflare terminates service to 8chan after recent US shootings

8chan has harbored a community of hate and three mass-shooters have now hosted manifestos on the platform.

Cloudflare drops extremist online message board 8chan after El Paso mass shooting 8chan has harbored a community of hate and three mass-shooters have now hosted manifestos on the platform.

Cloudflare, a company that provides website security and internet infrastructure services, announced on Sunday that it would drop 8chan as a customer.

"8chan has repeatedly proven itself to be a cesspool of hate," said Matthew Prince, Cloudflare CEO, in a statement published on late Sunday night.

8chan failed to moderate its content

Prince said the site has failed to moderate its "hate-filled community."

Because of this, 8chan, a forum and bulletin board, has now been the host of a third mass-shooter manifesto.

Mass-shooters have uploaded manifestos explaining their actions on 8chan on three occasions before going out and committing terror attacks.

  1. The terror attack on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, on March 15, 2019.
  2. Terror attack on a synagogue in Poway, California, on April 27, 2019.
  3. Attack at a Walmart store in El Paso, Texas, on August 3, 2019.

The last shooting took place over the weekend, when a second mass-shooting also took place in the US, in Dayton, Ohio, although this has not been linked to 8chan.

Nonetheless, both shootings have contributed to a growing voice of the US public against online communities and groups that keep harboring and radicalizing mass shooters.

"The rationale is simple: they have proven themselves to be lawless and that lawlessness has caused multiple tragic deaths," Prince said.

"Cloudflare is not a government"

However, the Cloudflare CEO said the company struggled with the decision, as they felt they shouldn't be made to take decisions on what is good and bad on the internet.

"Cloudflare is not a government," Prince said before arguing that law enforcement agencies should be the ones deciding when to ban this kind of sites from the internet, and not leave it to private companies to take these decisions.

Cloudflare kicking 8chan off its infrastructure means the site is now open to DDoS attacks, among other things. Multiple hacktivists have announced online plans to attack the site after 12:00am PT on Sunday, when Cloudflare said it would drop the site from its servers.

8chan is still online, at the time of writing. The site's domain registrar has not announced a similar ban, meaning users will still be able to access the site, as the domain will still work.

Second site kicked off Cloudflare after someone's death

8chan is the second controversial site that Cloudflare kicks off its infrastructure. In 2017, Cloudflare terminated The Daily Stormer, a neo-nazi news and propaganda site, after the website posted an article mocking a woman killed during white supremacy protests in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Following Cloudflare's ban, the site was subsequentially banned and kicked off other platforms as well, but it has not gone down for good, continuing to operate to this day, albeit with some inconveniences and downtimes as it constantly switched web hosting providers and domain name registrars.

Something similar is now expected to happen to 8chan, a website that users created from the old 4chan community and has a controversial history of its own.

8chan came to be after 4chan moderators started cracking down on violent content posted on their platform after the Gamergate sexism and harassment campaign -- with some harrassment against female gamers and journalists being called on and coordinated from the site's image boards. As a result, most of 4chan's most aggressive and extremist userbase found a new home on 8chan.

"Unfortunately the action we take today won't fix hate online," the Cloudflare CEO said. "It will almost certainly not even remove 8chan from the Internet. But it is the right thing to do. Hate online is a real issue."