Cloudflare cuts service to 8chan following U.S. mass murders

Lily Hay Newman for Wired:

The internet infrastructure firm Cloudflare said it would cut service on Sunday evening to 8chan, the infamous online forum that has housed numerous posts and manifestos linked to horrific mass shootings in the United States and around the world. The move comes nearly two days after a mass shooting at an El Paso, Texas Walmart left 20 dead and dozens wounded. The alleged gunman appears to have posted his manifesto on 8chan 20 minutes before the shooting. Cloudflare CEO Matthew Prince spoke with WIRED Sunday night about his decision.

“8chan has been on our radar for a long time as a problematic user,” says Prince. “But we have a responsibility, which is much beyond ‘we terminate sites we don’t like.’ I’m nervous about whether we’ve made the right decision, and I’m nervous about how this will set precedent in the future.”

Prince argues that rather than Cloudflare, platforms like Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter should decide what belongs on their own sites. Cloudflare shouldn’t make those calls any more than asphalt should set speed limits. The major platforms can, and do, moderate their own content and manage violent, destructive trends themselves—even if it’s been an imperfect system in practice. But Prince says that he didn’t account for platforms like 8chan that are intentionally created as a forum for unregulated expression.

“When you have platforms that are effectively lawless like this, then maybe that shifts the responsibility further down the stack,” Prince says.

MacDailyNews Take: This simply moves the problem to another place. It’s good problem mitigation for Cloudflare, meaningless for everyone else as 8chan or similar will continue to exist elsewhere.

The Net interprets censorship as damage and routes around it. — John Gilmore, December 6, 1993


  1. Cloudflare previously cut off the Daily Stormer, which has also found another provider. The Nazi problem goes on, but Cloudflare isn’t facilitating or profiting from it. That is called “having an ethical conscience,” not “problem mitigation.”

  2. “meaningless for everyone else as 8chan or similar will continue to exist elsewhere.”
    So what? That doesn’t mean that Cloudflare should stop cooperating with the promotion and celebration of murder.

    “The Net interprets censorship as damage and routes around it. — John Gilmore”
    What a stupid quote!
    There is no “Net” which “intreprets” anything as anything. There are PEOPLE who think and act.

    1. As the fifth employee of Sun Microsystems and founder of Cygnus Support, John Gilmore became wealthy enough to retire early and pursue other interests. He is one of the founders of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Cypherpunks mailing list, and Cygnus Solutions. He created the alt.* hierarchy in Usenet and is a major contributor to the GNU project. Gilmore received the Free Software Foundation’s Advancement of Free Software Award in 2009.

      He’s certainly a person who thinks and acts, thanks.

    2. That’s exactly what the speaker meant. The internet is people, and people view and want the internet to be free of censorship. The technology is flexible and fluid enough that when one avenue is closed, there are a dozen other ways.

      1. “…and people view and want the internet to be free of censorship.”

        I don’t think so. If you could poll a million average people — not geeks or libertarians — I’m pretty sure the vast majority would think that there should be zero tolerance of child pornography, promotion of murder and torture, celebration of murder, recruitment for ISIS and other terrorist organizations, and so on.

  3. I’m not quite sure when people started interpreting the First Amendment, which is a fairly straightforward prohibition of government censorship, as requiring third parties to facilitate speech with which they profoundly disagree. For Cloudflare to refuse assisting 8chan or Apple to refuse assisting Alex Jones is an exercise of their own First Amendment right to control their own message. It might be self-censorship, but it is not censorship in any First Amendment sense. It is legally permitted, and might be ethically required.

    1. TxUser – correct. There’s no first amendment issue unless the provider has been directed by government to take them down.

      People conflate 1st Amendment issues with the larger question of whether it is ever right to stifle speech. Many agree it is not only the right but the duty of the citizenry to silence the obscene.

    1. No, I’m afraid of angry men with guns and those who deliberately whip up their anger. Same reason I’m afraid of men who fire flare guns in a gas plant and those who encourage them.

    2. Do you have a young daughter, cousin, niece or neighbor?
      So imagine you have a six-year-old daughter. Some guy has been posting photos online and talking about how he wants to fsck her and then kill her… and is sharing that on 8chan.
      – Are you going to be applauding his exercise of “free speech”?
      – Or are you going to invite him to a dark alley to have a chat with you, a few of your friends, and Mr. baseball bat?
      – Or are you just being an immature asshole here… insulting people instead of considering what all this REALLY means to REAL people?

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