Anonymous message board 8chan, the site where the suspected gunman behind the El Paso shooting posted his white-supremacist manifesto, has been offline for several hours on Monday morning, after the internet infrastructure company Cloudflare stopped supporting the site.
“The rationale is simple: they have proven themselves to be lawless and that lawlessness has caused multiple tragic deaths,” Cloudflare CEO Matthew Prince (pictured above) said in a blog post late Sunday night explaining the company’s decision. “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 pulled its support at midnight PST, and the site was not loading by 9 a.m. PST — despite 8chan securing support from BitMitigate, a Washington-based provider, and briefly going live again, according to NBC News.
Late Sunday night, 8chan warned its Twitter followers “there might be some downtime in the next 24-48 hours” while it looks for support.
“Freedom of speech and expression are fundamental rights in a free society. We enter into a slippery slope when we start to limit speech that makes us uncomfortable,” Rob Monster, CEO of Epik, the parent company of BitMitigate, told TheWrap. “The censorship we’ve seen across major social media platforms as of late has created a vacuum. Our services fill the ever growing need for a neutral service provider that will not arbitrarily terminate accounts based on social or political pressure. Our philosophy is, if the customer is not breaking the law, providers of technology should apply discernment in determining whether or not to service.”
Monster added his company did not solicit 8chan’s business and had not made a “definitive decision” on whether to continue providing its services. The decision will be evaluated in the “coming days,” he said.
Bitmitigate’s willingness to host 8chan didn’t matter, though, once Voxility, the company it was renting servers from, terminated its deal with the company. Voxility VP Maria Sirbu told TheWrap in a brief phone call the decision came after the company was alerted to Bitmitigate’s support for 8chan.
A representative for 8chan also did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for comment.
The move comes after renewed scrutiny on the online message board in the wake of the massacre in El Paso, Texas, on Saturday, where 20 people were killed and dozens of other people were injured.
Just prior to the shooting, a post appeared on 8chan with a four-page message claiming to be from the suspected shooter. The manifesto railed against undocumented immigrants as “invaders” that only exacerbated issues facing Americans, like continued automation.
“The job of my dreams will likely be automated. Hispanics will take control of the local and state governments of my beloved Texas, changing policy to better suit their needs,” the manifesto said. “They will turn Texas into an instrument of a political coup which will hasten the destruction of our country.”
Similar posts have been made in advance of the shootings at a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, and a synagogue in Poway, California, with the suspect behind the Poway attack posting on 8chan before the shooting that “what I’ve learned here is priceless.”
Prince, in his blog post, pointed to these examples before adding “8chan has repeatedly proven itself to be a cesspool of hate.”
Prosecutors will seek the death penalty for “domestic terrorism” and other charges against 21-year-old Patrick Crusius, according to CBS News.
Jeremy Fuster contributed to this report.