Internet services company Cloudflare has announced that it will cease doing business with 8chan after the website was linked to a third mass shooting this year. Cloudflare’s CEO, Matthew Prince, wrote in a blog post that his company was dropping 8chan after a post on the website appeared to be a manifesto regarding the reasons for a shooting in El Paso, Texas, this weekend in which at least 22 people were killed.
Prince said of the decision, “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.”
Cloudflare is one of a handful of companies that provide crucial internet services including protection against common cyberattacks that can cripple websites. The company has cut service only once before. In 2017, Cloudflare suspended service to the neo-Nazi website the Daily Stormer after it was linked to a deadly white supremacist protest in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Frederick Brennan, who founded 8chan in 2013, has called for the new operators of the anonymous message board to shut it down. Brennan said in an interview, “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 relinquished control of the website to Jim Watkins in 2015. Watkins, a former Army recruiter, runs the site from his home in the Philippines. Watkins has been defiant against calls to censor posts on the site claiming that his users have a right to free speech. In 2016, he said in an interview, “I don’t have a problem with white supremacists talking on 8chan. They have reasons for their beliefs. I don’t need to justify their reasons.”