Over the weekend 8chan was booted as a customer by internet infrastructure company Cloudflare, which faced increasing criticism for providing denial-of-service (DDoS) attack mitigation services to the anonymous messaging board.
8chan then quickly found a new protector that has counted several far-right users among its clients: Epik.com. Motherboard reported in May that the little-known Epik had become a safe haven for the extreme right in the face of mounting deplatforming from more mainstream internet companies. Among its clients were the “free speech social network” Gab popular with the far-right, a known neo-Nazi podcasting network Radio Wehrwolf, Alex Jones’s InfoWars, and Bitchute—a YouTube-like site hosting far-right terrorist content.
But now, Voxility—an internet services company that worked with Epik—completely banned the new 8chan web host from its network, effectively making the controversial hate board go dark for the time being.
Voxility Vice President of Business Development, Maria Sirbu, told Motherboard in an email that the company immediately booted Epik and Bitmitigate from its network when it learned of the content it was hosting.
“We are a registered telco that provides services to identifiable resellers and as soon as we were notified on the content hosted by Epik/BitMitigate—we proceeded with completely removing the reseller from Voxility network,” she said.
“We do not tolerate hate speech. This is a firm stand from our team and we count on the support of our community online and via social media platforms in keeping the internet a safer place.”
At least in some cases, Epik did not appear to run its own infrastructure, and instead resells services from Voxility and other companies. This is why when Voxility decided to boot Epik, the impact of that trickled down to sites such as 8chan.
Epik did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
On Saturday a suspected white supremicist terrorist killed 20 people at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas only moments before posting his racist manifesto to 8chan—the third time a mass shooter has done so in the last five months.
In November 2018, Epik CEO Rob Monster stepped into host Gab following its deplatforming from GoDaddy for connections to the Pittsburgh synagogue shooter, who posted antisemitic messages mere moments before his attack.
“De-platforming a haven of free speech is not about left or right,” said Monster in a statement he posted to Epik's website.
According to a tweet earlier today from an 8chan administrator, the site registered with Epik and began using the to Epik-owned DDoS protection service Bitmitigate, which once shielded the Daily Stormer—a known neo-Nazi website that foments militantly racist content. Like 8chan, it appears the Daily Stormer website is inaccessible at the time of writing.
Joshua Fisher-Birch of the Counter Extremism Project—a U.S. based terrorism watchdog, —told Motherboard it isn’t shocking that Epik had picked up 8chan as a client.
“It is unfortunately no surprise that Epik would step in to keep 8chan online,” he said. “Epik has previously chosen to do business with sites that either promote violent ideologies, or amplify the voices of those who encourage extremism and terrorism. This time it’s different though.”
Fisher-Birch was blunt: “This is an incredibly dangerous choice to platform extremism.”
Joseph Cox contributed additional reporting.