UPDATED: Controversial message board 8chan went offline Monday morning following a ban by two hosting providers. This comes after the mass shooting in El Paso, Texas, whose perpetrator had announced the attack on the message board.
Cloudflare, a company that provides security and performance services for some of the world’s most popular websites, stopped providing these services for 8chan at midnight Monday. The site responded to this by moving to BitMitigate, a similar service that has in the past welcomed another site banned by Cloudflare.
However, BitMitigate was effectively taken offline Monday morning when Voxility, a wholesale hosting services provider, severed ties with the company over its ties to 8chan.
Cloudflare CEO Matthew Prince announced his decision to cancel 8chan’s contract in a blog post Sunday evening. “Based on evidence we’ve seen, it appears that he posted a screed to the site immediately before beginning his terrifying attack on the El Paso Walmart killing 20 people,” Prince wrote. “Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident. Nearly the same thing happened on 8chan before the terror attack in Christchurch, New Zealand.”
Authorities are treating the mass shooting in El Paso as an act of domestic terrorism, and the shooter is said to have been inspired by the Christchurch shooting and it supporters on 8chan. “8chan has repeatedly proven itself to be a cesspool of hate,” Prince wrote.
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Cloudflare is known for its fairly lenient policies around free speech issues; in addition to some of the world’s biggest companies, it also counts controversial groups like the Nation of Islam, the Westboro Baptist Church and The Pirate Bay among its customers.
In 2017, Cloudflare did terminate its agreement with the neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer. That termination resulted in a short service interruption for the site, but it eventually managed to come back online with the help of one of BitMitigate — only to once again go offline Monday morning.
On Sunday, Prince predicted that the same cat-and-mouse game may happen with 8chan. “Unfortunately the action we take today won’t fix hate online,” he wrote. “It will almost certainly not even remove 8chan from the Internet. But it is the right thing to do.”
Updated 8/5: This post was updated throughout following the BitMitigate take-down.