On Saturday a 21-year-old male allegedly shot up a crowded mall in El Paso, Texas, killing 20 and injuring a further 26. Hours later, authorities found a 2,300-word manifesto the killer had written and posted onto 8chan prior to the massacre. It’s the third case of a mass shooter uploading a manifesto onto 8chan before committing an atrocity, and an April shooting in a Californian synagogue. On Sunday Fredrick Brennan, the founder of 8chan, told the New York Times the site he created should be brought down.
“Shut the site down,” he told the publication in an interview. “Whenever I hear about a mass shooting, I say, ‘All right, we have to research if there’s an 8chan connection.”
The connection to 8chan was the alleged killers screed against Texas’ Hispanic population. In his manifesto, the alleged white perpetrator wrote that the attack was “in response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas.”
Brennan started the site in 2013, seeking to create a free-speech forum bereft of any censorship. He resigned from the site in 2016, from which time it’s been controlled by owner Jim Watkins and his son, Ron. “I no longer have anything to do with 8chan,” Brennan writes on his Twitter bio, “any 8chan questions post April 2016 I don’t know the answers to.”
The site was blacklisted in 2015 from Google search due to the child-porn content shared within. Brennan in 2014 said, “I don’t support the content on the [child pornography] boards you mentioned, but it is simply the cost of free speech and being the only active site to not impose more ‘laws’ than those that were passed in Washington, D.C.”)
“It’s not doing the world any good,” Brennan said to the Times of 8chan. “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.”
Cloudflare, an online security company, said Sunday that it was dropping 8chan, restricting the site from using Cloudfare’s services.
“8chan is among the more than 19 million Internet properties that use Cloudflare’s service,” company CEO Matthew Prince wrote in a Sunday blog post. “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.”
Ron Watkins, who co-manages the site with his father, tweeted: “All our domains have been removed from cloudflare, so we will be moving to another service asap. Please excuse any downtime as we migrate to the new service.”
8chan and its owners did not immediately respond to a request for comment.