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News and Trends

After Shootings, Cloudflare Pulls Plug on 8chan

'We draw the line at platforms that have demonstrated they directly inspire tragic events and are lawless by design. 8chan has crossed that line,' says Cloudflare CEO Matthew Prince.
After Shootings, Cloudflare Pulls Plug on 8chan
Image credit: Mario Tama/Getty Images via PC Mag
Executive Editor, PCMag
3 min read
This story originally appeared on PCMag

UPDATE 8/5: An 8chan admin today said the site is now using BitMitigate, which is the anti-DDoS used by The Daily Stormer, as the NYT's Kevin Roose notes. "8chan is coming back online across the world as dns is propagated. Please report any bugs or weirdness to me so I can fix it," the admin tweeted two hours ago.

Original Story:
In the wake of this weekend's mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, internet security firm Cloudflare will kick 8chan off its network tonight.

"8chan is among the more than 19 million internet properties that use Cloudflare's service," CEO Matthew Prince wrote in a blog post. "We just sent notice that we are terminating 8chan as a customer effective at midnight tonight Pacific Time."

Cloudflare offers websites internet security and protection against Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks, among other services. So without Cloudflare's services, 8chan is vulnerable to attack.

But the site has long been a go-to destination for the dregs of the internet. The El Paso shooter posted a document that outlined his alleged motivations to 8chan minutes before attacking a Walmart store on Saturday, killing 20 people and injuring another 26. The shooter who attacked a mosque in New Zealand and the man who opened fire in a Poway, California, synagogue also posted documents to 8chan prior to their rampages.

"8chan has repeatedly proven itself to be a cesspool of hate," Prince wrote tonight. But his decision is an about-face from what he told The Guardian earlier today, when he said Cloudflare had a "moral obligation" to keep 8chan online, in part because it helps law enforcement keep tabs on terrorist chatter.

Cloudflare has been "cooperating around monitoring potential hate sites on our network and notifying law enforcement when there was content that contained an indication of potential violence," Prince said tonight. That did not sit well with a nation reeling from ever more frequent mass shootings, however, and he announced a change of heart just shy of 10 p.m. ET.

"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. 8chan has crossed that line. It will therefore no longer be allowed to use our services," he said.

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