Do you believe in network providers as morality police?
Cloudflare CEO Matthew Prince says he does not like that role, but after the El Paso, Texas, mass shooting (with a death toll now at 21), it was time to play cybercop.
Online message site 8chan built its site on Cloudflare's network and used Cloudflare to block distributed denial of service (DDoS) cyberattacks.
Until August 5, 2019, that is.
Cloudflare's CEO says it terminated all services to 8chan:
"In the case of the El Paso shooting, the suspected terrorist gunman appears to have been inspired by the forum website known as 8chan. Based on evidence we've seen, it appears that he posted a screed [a long form post] to the site immediately before beginning his terrifying attack on the El Paso Walmart killing 20 people.
Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident. Nearly the same thing happened on 8chan before the terror attack in Christchurch, New Zealand. The El Paso shooter specifically referenced the Christchurch incident and appears to have been inspired by the largely unmoderated discussions on 8chan which glorified the previous massacre. In a separate tragedy, the suspected killer in the Poway, California synagogue shooting also posted a hate-filled 'open letter' on 8chan. 8chan has repeatedly proven itself to be a cesspool of hate."
Maybe Cloudflare's CEO also saw an interview with the founder of 8chan, Fredrick Brennan, who started the online message board "as a free speech utopia."
Brennan told the New York Times on August 4:
"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 no longer runs the site, which operates out of the Philippines.
Twitter reacts to Cloudflare pulling the plug on 8chan
Cloudflare CEO defends decision, predicts what is next
Cloudflare CEO Matthew Prince sums up his decision like this:
"Cloudflare's mission is to help build a better Internet. At some level firing 8chan as a customer is easy. They are uniquely lawless and that lawlessness has contributed to multiple horrific tragedies. Enough is enough.
What's hard is defining the policy that we can enforce transparently and consistently going forward. We, and other technology companies like us that enable the great parts of the Internet, have an obligation to help propose solutions to deal with the parts we're not proud of. That's our obligation and we're committed to it.
Unfortunately the action we take today won’t fix hate online. It will almost certainly not even remove 8chan from the Internet."
8chan offline, starts returning within hours
Three hours and four minutes after Cloudflare pulled the plug on 8chan, 8chan's administrator posted this tweet:
The site also posted on its official Twitter page to expect intermittent outages for 24-48 hours as it finds a new home.
A home that sees an unmoderated internet as a positive, even if that type of freedom becomes linked to death in the real world.