Cloudflare has decided to terminate the services of anonymous message board 8chan, which has been seen as a refuge for extremist hate and racism. This decision has been made in light of the El Paso shootings in USA on Saturday
Cloudflare CEO Matthew Prince had earlier told The New York Times reporter Kevin Roose that Cloudflare won’t be shutting down services for 8Chan, but later that decision was reversed. The report also mentioned that Tucows, a company that has control of 8chan’s domain name registration, hasn’t yet moved to deactivate the registration.
The El Paso mass shooting incident brings the total mass shooting toll for the country at around 250 in 2019 so far — that is an average of more than 1.16 mass shootings per day this year.
Cloudflare has now terminated its services to 8chan, which remains unreachable at the time of writing, but it remains to be seen how long this would hinder the functioning of the website and interaction of its users.
“In the case of the El Paso shooting, the suspected terrorist gunman appears to have been inspired by the forum website known as 8chan, which has repeatedly proven itself to be a cesspool of hate,” CEO Matthew Prince wrote in a blog post detailing Cloudflare’s decision. “We just sent notice that we are terminating 8chan as a customer effective at midnight tonight Pacific Time. The rationale is simple: they have proven themselves to be lawless and that lawlessness has caused multiple tragic deaths.”
Is this going to affect 8chan?
Probably not. 8chan was created after 4chan was shut down; if shutdown completely, something else might stem out of 8chan. As first pointed out by Ryan Broderick, 8chan in itself isn’t the radicalizer but its users are.
Another possible scenario is that Cloudflare has competitors and 8chan can switch to one of them.
In any case, people who flocked to 8chan, will either help the site to stay up or find an alternative. Cloudflare’s termination of services to 8chan changes nothing about the entire scenario surrounding extremism online.
Websites like 8chan are a safe haven for extremism to grow and there is nothing that can be done yet. The question remains, how long can this go on and what effects will it have on future generations? Although popular social networks are trying to do their part in removing hate speech from their platforms, sites like 8chan cannot be regulated yet and aren’t held accountable by local laws either.
Prayank heads the Editorial at Candid.Technology. When not writing, he loves taking trips on his bikes or chugging beers as Manchester United battle rivals.
Contact Prayank via email: [email protected]