The head of Cloudflare said his company will stop hosting fringe online platform 8chan after the platform was linked to multiple mass shootings. Cloudflare, a web infrastructure company, provides security and other services to websites to help keep them online. The Anti-Defamation League has tied 8chan to the rise of online extremism.
Cloudflare CEO Matthew Prince said in a statement, “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.”
Founded as an alternative to the more well-known 4chan message board, 8chan, or “Infinite Chan,” has nearly 20,000 public boards. The online message board has been linked to three mass shootings in 2019 alone. A shooting at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas last weekend, which left at least 22 dead and 24 injured, is the latest with a link to the website. The suspect in the shooting, Patrick Crusius, 21, is suspected to have posted an anti-immigrant manifesto on the site shortly before the shooting.
In April, a shooter posted a manifesto to 8chan’s /pol/ board before killing one woman and injuring three others at a California synagogue. A month prior, a shooter in Christchurch, New Zealand livestreamed the massacre of 50 people in two mosques to Facebook after posting an anti-immigrant manifesto to 8chan. The site is well-known as a gathering place for neo-Nazis and white supremacists.
The move by Cloudflare came just hours after the site’s founder called for its end. During media interviews, 8chan founder Fredrick Brennan said, “Shut the site down. 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.” Brennan gave up control of the website to Army veteran Jim Watkins in 2015. Watkins currently lives in the Philippines.