Published on August 5th, 2019 📆 | 2425 Views ⚑0
Company that provides hosting for controversial 8chan site drops service
Cloudflare, a San Francisco-based firm that helps online companies defend against cyberattacks, said Sunday that it will cut off hosting services to the controversial website 8chan, which has come under scrutiny after Saturday’s shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio.
Late Sunday, after hours of public criticism, Cloudflare said the site had gone too far and had ‘‘repeatedly proven itself to be a cesspool of hate.” Its access was scheduled to terminate at midnight Pacific time, making it more vulnerable to a potentially crippling cyberattack.
‘‘They have proven themselves to be lawless and that lawlessness has caused multiple tragic deaths,’’ Cloudflare chief executive Matthew Prince wrote in a blog post published Sunday night. ‘‘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.’’
Pressure was building on such mainstream companies like Cloudflare, which help keep 8chan online, after Saturday’s shootings, in which 29 people were killed and dozens were injured.
The activist group Sleeping Giants tweeted about Cloudflare’s connection early Sunday: ‘‘If you’re doing business with a site that helps people spread violent, racist ideologies, you are just as culpable. Full stop.’’
Before Sunday night’s announcement Cloudflare’s general counsel, Douglas Kramer, said that the company had no short-term plans to change 8chan’s services, even though it explicitly bans terrorist-propaganda networks.
In 2017, Cloudflare terminated the account for the neo-Nazi site Daily Stormer after violence at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va., but Prince publicly agonized over the decision afterward, saying it marked a dangerous use of censorship power.
The company, Kramer said, is involved in discussions at the government level over how to police or regulate similar sites. But he said he worried that dropping the shield on 8chan would be tantamount to encouraging ‘‘cyber-vigilantism.’’
‘‘Inserting ourselves as the judge and jury on these things is very problematic,’’ he said. ‘‘It’s easy for folks to approach us with one website, but for us, we need to come up with a rule that we can apply to over 20 million different web properties.’’