Cloudflare Inc., a U.S. internet firm that helps websites protect and distribute content, said it is terminating support for 8chan after the gunman in a mass shooting in El Paso, Texas allegedly drew inspiration from members in the online messaging forum.
In a strongly worded message on the company blog, Cloudflare Chief Executive Officer Matthew Prince condemned 8chan as a “cesspool of hate” and said his company would discontinue the site’s service at midnight Pacific Time.
The shooting this past weekend was preceded by a manifesto published on 8chan, allegedly by the attacker. Earlier in the year, the Christchurch, New Zealand and Poway, California terrorist incidents were also allegedly linked to conversations on 8chan.
Prince’s statement comes as Cloudflare is planning an initial public offering later this year. The San Francisco-based company provides technical, performance, and security services to website owners, including protection from Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks. Without its assistance, 8chan may become more vulnerable to being taken offline by such brute-force methods.
“The rationale is simple: they have proven themselves to be lawless and that lawlessness has caused multiple tragic deaths,” said Prince in the blog post.
8chan founder Fredrick Brennan — who no longer runs the website — echoed those comments in an interview on Sunday, saying “Shut the site down.” Though both Brennan and Prince’s Cloudflare have previously advocated free speech justifications for the creation and maintenance of fringe online communities, Brennan said that 8chan is “not doing the world any good. It’s a complete negative to everybody except the users that are there.”
The Cloudflare CEO urged a wider conversation about the spread of hateful messages online in the wake of two mass shootings in the U.S. over the weekend, leaving about 30 dead.
“In taking this action,” Prince wrote, “we’ve solved our own problem, but we haven’t solved the internet’s.”