Site goes offline following involvement in shootings in Texas, with Cloudflare accusing it of ‘directly inspiring tragic events’
The far-right internet forum 8chan was offline on Monday after infrastructure provider Cloudflare withdrew its services on Sunday night.
The firm said it was making the move because of 8chan’s role in inspiring shootings such as that in an El Paso Wal-Mart on Saturday, in which 20 died.
The shooting suspect is believed to have posted a four-page statement on 8chan, expressing support for the gunman who killed 51 people at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, in March.
The Christchurch gunman is also said to have published a 74-page manifesto on 8chan and Twitter.
Spirit of the law
“Based on evidence we’ve seen, it appears that he (the suspect) posted a screed to the site immediately before beginning his terrifying attack,” wrote Cloudflare chief executive Matthew Prince in a blog post.
“We just sent a notice that we are terminating 8chan as a customer effective at midnight tonight Pacific Time,” Prince wrote.
He said that while 8chan did not violate the letter of the law, it has “created an environment that revels in violating its spirit”.
Prince said Cloudflare did not take the decision lightly.
“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,” he wrote.
“8chan has crossed that line. It will therefore no longer be allowed to use our services.”
Denial of service
Cloudflare’s services include helping firms fend off denial-of-service attacks, which typically involve overloading a site with large amounts of junk traffic.
Withdrawing the services exposes 8chan to such attacks, and the site was not reachable as of Monday afternoon GMT.
8chan’s administrator told the BBC the site was switching to a Cloudflare rival, BitMitigate, which also helped far-right website The Daily Stormer after Cloudflare withdrew support from it in 2017.
However, on Monday afternoon both 8chan and The Daily Stormer were unreachable.
Prince noted that The Daily Stormer was only briefly offline after it and Cloudflare went their separate ways.
“They are no longer Cloudflare’s problem, but they remain the Internet’s problem,” he wrote. “I have little doubt we’ll see the same happen with 8chan.”