The anonymous chat site where the El Paso, Texas, gunman reportedly posted a racist manifesto ahead of the shooting Saturday was knocked offline Monday and cut by a series of vital companies that made up its web infrastructure, according to news reports.
Cloudflare, the security firm that provides support for 19 million online properties, pulled support for 8chan on Sunday, saying in a news release it had a responsibility “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," said Cloudflare CEO Matthew Prince.
To stay online, 8chan’s administrates went to BitMitigate, which has held itself up as a bastion of free-speech protections. But BitMitigate, owned by Epik, only had a sliver of Cloudflare’s server capacity and depended on renting equipment from Voxility to stay afloat. Voxility quickly removed BitMitigate from its network, with executive Maria Sirbu telling the Washington Post it had taken a clear pledge to making the Internet a safer place for all, “and we would continue to cut entire infrastructure for any party we identify as facilitating mass shootings and extreme hate speech with intolerable consequences.”
The document posted by the El Paso shooter called the attack a “response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas” and echoed similar anti-immigrant screeds that were posted online before mass shootings in Christchurch, New Zealand and Poway, Calif., earlier this year.
Epik CEO Rob Monster has cast doubt on whether his company will maintain a relationship with 8chan, but noted that he believes it is a “slippery slope” to limit “uncomfortable” speech.
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