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The Hate-Filled Website 8chan Was Taken Offline After the El Paso Shooting. By Monday Morning It Was Back.

In the last six months, at least three people linked to mass shootings have posted content related to their attacks on 8chan.

by David Gilbert
Aug 5 2019, 11:08am

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UPDATE 8/3 2:19 p.m. ET: 8chan was once again taken offline Monday,hours after it managed to get itself back online.

“It took us a few minutes to put everything together and we proceeded with cutting off all services for the reseller,” Voxility told VICE News after being notified on social media that its infrastructure was being used by website protection service Bitmitigate to host 8chan.

“We are against hate speech and we take a firm stand here,” the company said.

Ron Watkins, an 8chan administrator, said the site was going to give Bitmitigate some time to find another service to host their website. Otherwise he said, the website might go live without any protection and take its chances against the likely distributed denial of service attacks it will face.

Original story follows:

At midnight on Sunday, 8chan, the extremist message board where the El Paso shooter allegedly posted an anti-immigrant manifesto moments before opening fire and killing 20 people, was taken offline.

By 6 a.m. on Monday, the site’s administrators managed to get the website up and running again.

The site was taken offline after cybersecurity and website infrastructure company Cloudflare pulled support for the site late on Sunday evening.

“We just sent notice that we are terminating 8chan as a customer effective at midnight tonight Pacific Time," Matthew Prince, Cloudflare CEO wrote in a blog post. "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."

Cloudflare has defended its support of extremist and hate-filled websites like 8chan in the past. In media interviews as late as Saturday night, Prince appeared to be sticking to that line, telling the Guardian that keeping “bad” sites within its network was a better way to monitor what was happening on them.

READ: Hispanic leaders say Trump’s anti-immigrant language is fueling violence like El Paso

But Cloudflare is not the only infrastructure provider out there, and 8chan’s administrators announced early Monday morning they had secured the services of, BitMitigate, a Washington-based provider whose website claims it has “a proven commitment to liberty.”

BitMitigate did not immediately respond to a request for comment from VICE News.

Ron Watkins, a site administrator and the son of 8chan owner Jim Watkins, announced just after 6 a.m. that the site was back online, but that it could take 24 hours for it to be available in all parts of the world.

VICE News has confirmed that the site is accessible, though in not all parts of the world.

READ: "Nobody really knew him:" Everything we know about the suspected El Paso shooter

But, while the site is back online for now, the long-term future of 8chan could be under threat, given the increasing propensity for mass shooting suspects to use the platform to try and promote their ideologies.

8chan is a notorious internet black hole, where hate speech thrives and conspiracy and harassment movements like Gamergate and QAnon have flourished. In the last six months, at least three people linked to mass shootings have posted content related to their attacks on the website.

The suspect in the shooting at a synagogue in Poway, California in April, that killed one person and injured three, allegedly posted a racist and antisemitic “open letter” on 8chan. The man who allegedly killed dozens of people at two New Zealand mosques in March posted a manifesto and a link to a live Facebook stream of the massacre on 8chan.

And on Saturday, 45-minutes before the suspect began shooting, it has been alleged that the shooter posted a 4-page manifesto trying to explain his actions on 8chan. The user encouraged his “brothers” on the site to spread the contents as widely as possible.

In fact, FBI agents were aware of the manifesto, and were analyzing it before the shooting began. But without the perpetrator’s name, or a date or location for the attack, they were unable to act.

Throughout Saturday and into Sunday, 8chan users discussed the El Paso shooting, calling the suspect “our guy,” and celebrating the number of people he killed.

READ: Dayton shooter allegedly killed his own sister in addition to 8 other victims

The site’s founder, Frederick Brennan, said he immediately checked the website when he heard news of the mass shooting. Brennan set the site up as a bastion of free speech in 2013, but now, he thinks it should now be taken offline permanently.

Shut the site down,” Brennan told the News York Times. “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.”

Cover: Employees of Walmart cry as they attend a vigil for victims of Saturday's mass shooting who were killed at the store inside a shopping complex Sunday, Aug. 4, 2019, in El Paso, Texas. (AP Photo/John Locher)