At the weekend two mass shooting took place in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio. While the incidents were not connected as of time of writing, they are similar to other mass shootings we’ve seen in recent times.

Among these similarities are the El Paso shooter’s connection to the website 8chan.

Following the shooting in El Paso, Texas, it is alleged that the shooter posted a document to 8chan explaining their motivations for the shooting.

Like millions of other websites 8chan is a forum. Although, unlike millions of forums, the questionable members of society tend to flock to 8chan.

Because of the website’s reputation and lack of moderation, hate has filled the corridors of 8chan and Cloudflare chief executive officer Matthew Prince has had enough.

“We just sent notice that we are terminating 8chan as a customer effective at midnight tonight Pacific Time. The rationale is simple: they have proven themselves to be lawless and that lawlessness has caused multiple tragic deaths. 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,” Prince wrote in a blog post.

Of course many services make use of Cloudflare, we know of a number of piracy websites that use Cloudflare but Prince believes that 8chan has pushed the envelope too far.

“We reluctantly tolerate content that we find reprehensible, but we draw the line at platforms that have demonstrated they directly inspire tragic events and are lawless by design. 8chan has crossed that line. It will therefore no longer be allowed to use our services,” the CEO said.

The CEO goes onto to address the cries of this move flying in the face of the first amendment in the US. As Prince rightly points out, Cloudflare is a private firm and as such not bound by the First Amendment.

“The vast majority of our customers, and more than 50% of our revenue, comes from outside the United States where the First Amendment and similarly libertarian freedom of speech protections do not apply. The only relevance of the First Amendment in this case and others is that it allows us to choose who we do and do not do business with; it does not obligate us to do business with everyone,” said Prince.

Of course, we don’t think that Cloudflare’s actions against 8chan will have any sort of effect on the website. Indeed Prince points out Cloudflare did something similar to The Daily Stormer a few years ago and it’s still around.

No, what Cloudflare is doing is taking a stand and saying it won’t help entities that allow hate to flourish on their platforms and that’s a pretty big deal to us.

[Image – CC 0 Pixabay]