Cloudflare ends services for ‘lawless’ 8chan after El Paso massacre

Armed policemen gather next to an FBI armoured vehicle next to the Cielo Vista Mall . (AFP pic)

SAN FRANCISCO: Digital security and infrastructure firm Cloudflare said Sunday it was terminating its services to 8chan, the message board where the El Paso gunman reportedly posted a racist “manifesto” shortly before killing 20 people.

In a blog post announcing the move, Cloudflare CEO Matthew Prince described the no-censorship site as “a cesspool of hate.”

“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,” Prince wrote.

“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.”

Other right-wing extremists, misogynists and conspiracy theorists have posted to 8chan, which does not moderate content.

Cloudflare’s move terminating its cybersecurity and other services means 8chan could be exposed to distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, in which hackers take down a site by flooding it with fake traffic.

Prince said the network services provider had not taken 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.”

Shortly before the El Paso mass shooting on Saturday, the suspect named by the media as Patrick Crusius, who is white, was believed to have posted a racist “manifesto” on 8chan that includes passages railing against the “Hispanic invasion” of Texas.

Despite Cloudflare’s move, Prince said terminating services to sites like 8chan would not make the internet safer or reduce online hate.

Two years ago, after a far-right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia in which a woman was killed, Cloudflare stopped providing services to neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer.

“Today, the Daily Stormer is still available and still disgusting. They have bragged that they have more readers than ever. They are no longer Cloudflare’s problem, but they remain the Internet’s problem,” Prince wrote.

“Unfortunately the action we take today won’t fix hate online. 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.”