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Cloudflare terminates 8chan as customer on 'hate-filled' content: CEO

Cloudflare terminates 8chan as customer on 'hate-filled' content: CEO

Postby smix » Mon Aug 05, 2019 4:52 am

Cloudflare terminates 8chan as customer on 'hate-filled' content: CEO
Reuters

URL: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-texa ... SKCN1UV08G
Category: Politics
Published: August 5, 2019

Description: (Reuters) - U.S. cyber security firm Cloudflare on Monday said the company will terminate online message board 8chan as its customer after a shooter used the messaging forum just before killing 20 people at a Walmart store in El Paso, Texas on Saturday. The shooter is believed to have posted a four-page statement on 8chan, and called the Walmart attack “a response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas”. The suspect was officially identified as a 21-year-old white male from Allen, Texas, a Dallas suburb some 650 miles (1,046 km) east of El Paso, which lies along the Rio Grande, across the U.S.-Mexico border from Ciudad Juarez. Citing law enforcement officials, multiple news media reports named the suspect as Patrick Crusius. The suspect’s post on 8chan expressed support for the gunman who killed 51 people at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, in March. “We just sent a notice that we are terminating 8chan as a customer effective at midnight tonight Pacific Time,” Cloudflare Chief Executive Officer Matthew Prince said in a blog post. “Based on evidence we’ve seen, it appears that he (gunman)posted a screed to the site immediately before beginning his terrifying attack on the El Paso Walmart killing 20 people,” Prince said. The CEO’s blog added that while 8chan did not violate law by not moderating the “hate-filled” content posted by its users, it has “created an environment that revels in violating its spirit”.



After shootings, tech companies pressured to pull plug on 8chan
Reuters

URL: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa- ... SKCN1UW060
Category: Politics
Published: August 6, 2019

Description: SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Critics pressed Twitter and other tech companies to shun online message board 8chan on Monday, after it was used by a mass shooter to announce an attack for the third time this year. Employing the hashtag #untwitter8chan, users urged Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey to boot 8chan off the platform. 8chan, which in its verified Twitter profile describes its location as “The Darkest Reaches of the Internet,” has become a hotbed for white extremist content. Twitter was “proactively removing content that violates our policies and will be engaged with law enforcement, as appropriate,” company spokesman Ian Plunkett said. He declined to comment on 8chan’s account. The gunman who killed 22 people at a Walmart store in El Paso, Texas on Saturday is believed to have posted a four-page statement on 8chan before his attack, calling it a “response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas.” The site was previously used this year by the shooters who attacked two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand and a synagogue in Poway, California. 8chan, which is run by an American living in the Philippines, was struggling to stay online on Monday after U.S. cyber security firm Cloudflare terminated it as a customer in response to the Texas shooting. It quickly found a new home with Epik, a Seattle-based company which last year welcomed neo-Nazi site the Daily Stormer and “free-speech” site Gab. Both lost service providers for similar reasons: the Daily Stormer after users helped organize a rally in Virginia that turned violent, Gab after the Pittsburg synagogue shooter used it to express anti-Semitic views. “Our services fill the ever-growing need for a neutral service provider that will not arbitrarily terminate accounts based on social or political pressure,” Epik CEO Rob Monster wrote in a statement. But within hours, after being alerted to the 8chan connection by former Facebook chief security officer Alex Stamos, Epik’s own web infrastructure provider Voxility dropped it as a customer. At the time of writing, 8chan’s site appeared to be down. Stamos on Sunday reiterated his call for “responsible tech companies” to blockade 8chan by not allowing links to the site, citing its use as a recruitment tool. 8chan did not appear to have any official accounts on Facebook, although links to the site were available there. A Facebook spokeswoman said direct links to the shooter’s manifesto were being blocked. A Google search did not return any direct links to the website, but it did return 8chan’s official Twitter account, which links to its homepage. Cindy Cohn, executive director of digital rights group the Electronic Frontier Foundation, urged caution in looking to tech platforms and services to address mass violence. “Because these services may determine whether one can use the internet at all, those companies providing them must use their power on only very rare occasions, if at all,” she said.



8chan owner called before U.S. Congress, as latest host drops site
Reuters

URL: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa- ... SKCN1UX012
Category: Politics
Published: August 6, 2019

Description: (Reuters) - Online message board 8chan’s fortunes worsened on Tuesday, as it was once again made homeless by a technical services provider and its owner was called to testify to the U.S. Congress after 8chan was linked to a weekend mass shooting in El Paso, Texas.

jim-watkins-8chan.jpg

The House of Representatives Homeland Security Committee demanded that owner Jim Watkins, an American living in the Philippines, testify about 8chan’s efforts to tackle “the proliferation of extremist content, including white supremacist content.” The committee's Democratic chairman, Bennie Thompson, and Mike Rogers, its ranking Republican, sent a letter to Watkins to appear, calling the El Paso massacre "at least the third act of supremacist violence linked to your website this year." 8chan was offline on Tuesday after Seattle-based Epik became the latest provider to cut ties. In a statement, Epik’s chief executive, Rob Monster, cited concerns about its inadequate enforcement and a greater possibility of violent radicalization. In the heavily Hispanic city of El Paso on Saturday, a gunman killed 22 people at a Walmart store. Authorities have cited a lengthy anti-immigrant manifesto, apparently posted on 8chan by the suspect, as evidence of a racial motivate. After the shooting, U.S. cyber security firm CloudFlare withdrew services from 8chan, prompting it to sign up with Epik on Monday. Epik’s own web infrastructure provider, Voxility, dropped it as a customer in response. Epik still provides services to neo-Nazi site the Daily Stormer and “free-speech” site Gab, as well as InfoWars, a website run by conspiracy theorist Alex Jones. Monster told Reuters the anonymity on 8chan differentiated it from other sites. “Nobody has a vested interest in personal accountability, since you always get a new persona,” he said. Fredrick Brennan, who created 8chan in 2013, has called for the site to be closed down. “If I could go back and not create 8chan at all, I probably would,” he told Reuters in an interview, likening it to Frankenstein’s monster. In a reply here to the House committee, a copy of which was posted on Twitter, 8chan's Watkins said he was always available to talk by telephone. "Rest assured I am not an extremist. My telephone should work worldwide," he said. He argued earlier that the site provided a space for free speech. “Think of 8chan as a large community of 1 million people that are now looking for a home,” Watkins said in a video he posted on YouTube, with a shadowy likeness of American founding father Benjamin Franklin behind him. Watkins said the Texas suspected gunman’s manifesto was first uploaded not to 8chan but to Instagram, the photo-sharing app owned by Facebook.

zuckerberg-embarrassed.jpg

A Facebook spokeswoman said the company has found “nothing that supports this theory” in an investigation since Saturday. Facebook disabled the suspect’s Instagram account, which had not been active in more than a year, she added.
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Cloudflare Ditches 8chan. What Happens Now?

Postby smix » Mon Aug 05, 2019 4:59 am

Cloudflare Ditches 8chan. What Happens Now?
Wired

URL: https://www.wired.com/story/cloudflare- ... port-ddos/
Category: Politics
Published: August 5, 2019

Description: 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. Cloudflare provides infrastructural support, like content delivery services and DDoS protection, to 19 million online properties. Revoking that support can effectively shut a site down, at least until it finds a new provider. But the company has long maintained that it should not serve as an arbiter of speech online, with one notable exception: Cloudflare severed ties with the white supremacist site the Daily Stormer two years ago. As pressure mounted in the wake of the El Paso shooting, Cloudflare at first maintained that it would not drop 8chan. But by Sunday evening, the company had reversed course. "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. Looking at Daily Stormer and now 8chan, Prince says that Cloudflare is attempting to find the line where "a site has shown repeatedly that it is causing active, real harm." Cloudflare gets requests from individuals, institutions, and governments worldwide to take down sites every day, though, because of their alleged real-world harm. It doesn't act on those requests precisely because that allegation is so subjective. As a result, the actual parameters for what merits a takedown remain extremely murky. And even when Cloudflare takes the step to unilaterally cut service, nothing stops those shunned sites from buying the services they need elsewhere. The Daily Stormer, for example, was back online within a couple of days, albeit harder to find. And though Google stopped indexing 8chan back in 2015, taking some wind out of its sails, the site has still managed to become a go-to for hate speech of all sorts and, of late, mass shooters spreading their extremist propaganda. "Some of you might’ve read the @Cloudflare news already," a Twitter account associated with the site posted on Sunday evening. "There might be some downtime in the next 24-48 hours while we find a solution." Even if 8chan itself somehow never reemerges, which seems unlikely, discussions like those hosted on the forum can easily move to another platform. 8chan itself grew out of the forum 4chan in 2013. Meanwhile, the anything-goes social network Gab went down temporarily last fall, because its providers—including the domain registrar GoDaddy and web host Joyent—dropped it after the alleged shooter in the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting made threats on the social network. But Gab came back as soon as other companies stepped in to provide services. Cloudflare stuck with Gab throughout. Infrastructure providers have the power to let a site go down, and maybe even do it irreparable damage in the process. But the internet was built to be decentralized precisely to protect speech, so regardless of what you think of the precedent Cloudflare is setting, 8chan will likely be back soon, something Prince readily acknowledges. "The real thing that kills me is that at the end of the day [dropping 8chan] doesn’t actually fix the problem," Prince says. "It solves the problem for us, but it doesn’t solve the problem for the internet. It doesn't address the core causes of why hate festers online."
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The Problem Isn't 8chan. It’s Young American Men.

Postby smix » Mon Aug 05, 2019 5:18 am

The Problem Isn't 8chan. It’s Young American Men.
BuzzFeed

URL: https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/ry ... -americans
Category: Politics
Published: August 4, 2019

Description: "If 8chan is shutdown here is what will happen: someone else will spin up a new imageboard, say 20chan or whatever. People will flock to that."

luke-crywalker.jpg

Less than an hour before killing at least 20 people and injuring some 26 more in an El Paso, Texas, Walmart, the suspected shooter, 21-year-old Patrick Crusius, posted a hate-filled manifesto to the anonymous messageboard 8chan. He is the third shooter this year to post such a screed to the site before carrying out an act of horrific violence. And as the nation reels from another in a string of mass shootings this year, calls to shutdown 8chan have never been louder. But they are unlikely to be accomplish much, because in 2019 8chan is no longer a refuge for extremist hate — it is a window opening onto a much broader landscape of racism, radicalization and terrorism. Shutting down the site is unlikely to eradicate this new extremist culture, because 8chan is anywhere. Pull the plug, it will appear somewhere else, in whatever locale will host it. Because there's nothing particularly special about 8chan, there are no content algorithms, hosting technology immaterial. The only thing radicalizing 8chan users are other 8chan users. “If 8chan is shutdown here is what will happen: someone else will spin up a new imageboard, say 20chan or whatever. People will flock to that,” Andrew Torba, the founder of Gab.ai, a far-right social media network popular with people deplatformed by Twitter told BuzzFeed News. “Or someone will create an 8chan telegram channel. Or an 8chan Gab group. Or an 8chan Gab Social server hosted by someone else. Or they will go back to 4chan.” In fact, this process is already happening. A group of users told BuzzFeed News earlier this month that it’s now common for large 4chan threads to migrate over into Discord servers before the 404. “Remember 8chan took off in popularity in wake of the censorship of Gamergate threads on 4chan,” Torba said. “People had no problems finding 8chan when this happened and relocating there. What is to say they won't do the same if 8chan is shutdown?” For years outsiders have incorrectly thought of messageboards like 8chan as platforms similar to Facebook and Twitter. The thinking goes that if you remove extremist content from a platform, it stops spreading. Last fall, far-right internet personality Alex Jones was deplatformed from every major app and has, for the most part, vanished from the national conversation. But there is no simple solution for 8chan. There is no hoax-mongering internet personality who, de-platformed from Facebook and Twitter et. al, vanishes from the national conversation. Because 8chan isn't a platform; It doesn't work this way. Ephemerality is baked into its DNA. In 2013, a computer programmer named Fredrick Brennan started 8chan as a spin-off of 4chan. At the time, Brennan believed that 4chan had become too heavily moderated and decided users needed an even more anarchic and open platform. This is more or less the same way 4chan started a decade earlier. A user on the comedy site Something Awful named Christopher Poole decided he needed a more open platform to talk about anime and spun off to make his own. Like 4chan, 8chan incentivizes casual use. There are no log-ins or screennames. Users have no identity and thus, no real ownership of what’s posted there. Threads 404 and die when they grow too large. There is no coherent center and very little structure. 8chan is more bathroom stall than an actual community. It’s a place where you can dox and SWAT someone, the place you go to to post a hate-filled prelude to a mass murder. It’s worth noting that neither Brennan or Poole are now involved with the sites they created, and Brennan has become a vocal proponent of shutting 8chan down. Brennan told BuzzFeed News that shutting down 8chan wouldn't stop the extremism we're now seeing entirely, but it would make it harder for them organize. "The problems are obviously structural and societal, but it would be a somewhat effective band-aid," Brennan said. "That plus a federal assault weapons ban might make these kinds of shootings only happen every few years, and with (probably) lower body counts. Without a ban, maybe every year. Certainly not twice in 24 hours." 8chan is currently owned by a man named Jim Watkins, who owns a company called N.T. Technology, which manages several web properties, including 8chan and 2chan, the Japanese website that was the original inspiration for 4chan. A website as controversial as 8chan would have most likely been taken down by vigilantes by now, but it’s protected by CloudFlare, a content delivery and security network that has been criticized over the years for helping keep the website afloat. Doug Kramer, CloudFlare’s general counsel, told BuzzFeed News that he understands that people want the company to stop working with 8chan, but if it were to discontinue services the move could set a dangerous precedent. “Scratching an itch in a situation like this is very problematic,” Kramer said. “We would just be taking parts of the internet and opening them up and making them less secure.” CloudFlare did cease working with one site, neo-Nazi blog The Daily Stormer, which they terminated in 2017. The company’s CEO, Matthew Prince, later said they plan to never take that kind of action again. The Daily Stormer is still online, reportedly getting more traffic than ever. “We don’t host content,” Kramer said. “Even if we did decide to take down our services, they’d still be up.” The Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism reported that far-right extremists were responsible for 100% of all terrorist attacks on US soil since the end of 2017. Turning off a website viewed by several million people a month isn’t going to undo that. Deplatforming extremists can help, for instance, ISIS has been all but eliminated from social media. But it’s getting harder to do that. All of this creates a vacuum that other decentralized apps are filling. Telegram, for instance, is a hotbed of radicalization at the moment. It’s used heavily by far-right street gang the Proud Boys and deplatformed far right influencers like Laura Loomer have personal channels with thousands of followers each. Milo Yiannopoulos, who has been kicked off every major social media site there is, runs a Telegram channel that has over 18,000 subscribers. Could these channels grow big enough and extreme enough to inspire the real world violence we’re seeing emerge from 8chan? It certainly seems plausible. Again, 8chan is anywhere. All it needs is an unmoderated space, and some angry like-minded people ruminating hateful, violent ideas. Where are ISIS sympathizers now? Telegram. On Sunday night, one of the top posts on 8chan was titled “Where to go when they shut 8ch down?” The original poster wrote, “Let's be honest, at this pace, it's just a matter of time. So any recommendations? Where do you plan to go when they close this shit? Any good forum, image board, site or whatever.” The thread is full of suggestions of other similar sites to go if and when 8chan finally goes dark. Another user in the thread replied, “We've always had a bad reputation but now we're being linked to mass shooters. Where to go? Honestly I don't know. There are alternative chans, but even if we all migrated to one of them, it would only be a matter of time before the same problem occurred again.”



Following Mass Shooting, Security Service Cloudflare Ends Online Protections For 8chan
BuzzFeed

URL: https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/ry ... atedmanual
Category: Politics
Published: August 4, 2019

Description: “The rationale is simple: they have proven themselves to be lawless and that lawlessness has caused multiple tragic deaths.”
Cloudflare, a website security firm used by some of the world’s largest companies, announced on Sunday night that it would be ending protections and all network services for 8chan, the anonymous online forum where multiple people have posted messages of their violent intent before carrying out mass shootings in the last year. Cloudflare’s decision to end its relationship with 8chan comes after the site reportedly hosted the racist, hate-filled manifesto of the 21-year-old gunman who killed at least 20 people and injured dozens more in a shooting on Saturday in El Paso, Texas. It also represents a significant u-turn, after the company’s general counsel told BuzzFeed News earlier this weekend that ending protections for 8chan would be “very problematic.” In a blog post, the San Francisco-based Cloudflare noted that 8chan was just one of more than 19 million Internet properties that employ its services. Cloudfare will no longer serve 8chan as of midnight Pacific Time on Sunday. Although the company does not host the site itself, Cloudflare provides security services that help 8chan remain online and accessible. “The rationale is simple: they have proven themselves to be lawless and that lawlessness has caused multiple tragic deaths,” Cloudflare CEO Matthew Prince said in the post. “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.” For Cloudflare, the move comes amid increasing pressure on the company in the wake of two mass shootings in less than 24 hours that have rocked the United States. One of those, in El Paso, was the third mass shooting this year in which 8chan played a role. In March, following the mass shootings at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand that left 51 dead, Cloudflare continued to work with 8chan even after authorities found the perpetrator was radicalized on the site and distributed his own manifesto through the forum. Calling the site a “cesspool of hate,” Prince cited the tragedies in El Paso and Christchurch, as well as another shooting involving an 8chan-radicalized individual at a Poway, California synagogue as support for his decision. “Nearly the same thing happened on 8chan before the terror attack in Christchurch, New Zealand. The El Paso shooter specifically referenced the Christchurch incident and appears to have been inspired by the largely unmoderated discussions on 8chan which glorified the previous massacre.” Cloudflare, which is readying for an initial public offering, has faced intense scrutiny in the past for continuing to work with websites that foster hate. In 2017, it made a rare move to discontinue services to neo-Nazi blog The Daily Stormer with Prince noting at the time that the company hope to never do that to any site again. In his blog post, Prince cited that incident and noted that the Daily Stormer “is still available and still disgusting” with allegedly more readers than ever. “I have little doubt we'll see the same happen with 8chan,” Prince said. “While removing 8chan from our network takes heat off of us, it does nothing to address why hateful sites fester online. It does nothing to address why mass shootings occur. It does nothing to address why portions of the population feel so disenchanted they turn to hate. In taking this action we've solved our own problem, but we haven't solved the Internet's.” Prince, via a Twitter direct message, told BuzzFeed News he was "hopeful the precedent we set won’t open a can of unintended consequences." Cloudflare’s move comes after the company told multiple outlets that it would not cut off service to 8chan as of Sunday afternoon. “Scratching an itch in a situation like this is very problematic,” Cloudflare general counsel Doug Kramer told BuzzFeed News before the company reversed its decision. “We would just be taking parts of the internet and opening them up and making them less secure.” Tucows, a Canadian company that provides domain name registration services to 8chan, told the New York Times as of Sunday evening that it has no plans to disable the site’s online address. The company did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment from BuzzFeed News. Prince ended his post on Sunday night by asking lawmakers around the world to do more. Making it clear that he didn’t want Cloudflare to have the responsibilities of government, he suggested that there was need for legislation to deal with “lawless platforms” like the Daily Stormer and 8chan. “In cases like these, where platforms have been designed to be lawless and unmoderated, and where the platforms have demonstrated their ability to cause real harm, the law may need additional remedies,” he said.
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US company will stop supporting 8chan after El Paso shooting

Postby smix » Mon Aug 05, 2019 5:32 am

US company will stop supporting 8chan after El Paso shooting
The Hill

URL: https://thehill.com/policy/technology/4 ... o-shooting
Category: Politics
Published: August 4, 2019

Description: The head of Cloudfare – the U.S. company that helps keep 8chan online – on Sunday said his company will stop hosting the fringe online platform known for supporting white supremacists. Cloudfare CEO Matthew Prince's decision comes shortly after the gunman in El Paso, Texas, allegedly posted an anti-immigrant manifesto to 8chan before killing twenty people and injuring two dozen more. If investigators conclude the manifesto did come from the gunman, it will be the third incident this year in which a suspect is believed to have posted a posted hateful, white extremist screed to 8chan – the anonymous message board which dubs itself the "darkest reaches of the Internet" – before committing a mass shooting. Prince laid out his plans to pull his company's service from 8chan in a blog post on Sunday night. He said they would cut ties by midnight on the West coast. As of Sunday at 10 ET, the website was still up, but posters were anticipating the imminent end. "It's over," one post with 127 replies read. "The end," read another. Cloudfare, a web infrastructure company, provides security and other services to websites to help keep them online. But the company has come under intensive heat from extremism experts over the past several months for continuing to host 8chan, even as it has become a hotbed for white nationalist, sexist, anti-Semitic, homophobic and otherwise hateful rhetoric. Prince in his post predicted that another service would take up the mantle and 8chan would be back online soon. "While removing 8chan from our network takes heat off of us, it does nothing to address why hateful sites fester online," he wrote. "In taking this action we've solved our own problem, but we haven't solved the Internet's." Two years ago, Cloudfare decided to terminate service for The Daily Stormer, a neo-Nazi publication that is still running today thanks to a different infrastructure provider. "Almost exactly two years ago we made the determination to kick another disgusting site off Cloudflare's network: the Daily Stormer," Prince wrote. "That caused a brief interruption in the site's operations but they quickly came back online using a Cloudflare competitor." 8chan's Twitter account, shortly after Cloudfare's decision, vowed to find a solution within the next few days. "There might be some downtime in the next 24-48 hours while we find a solution (that includes our email so timely compliance with law enforcement requests may be affected)," 8chan tweeted. Cloudfare's decision to cut 8chan's service is a surprising reversal from Prince, who spent the day telling reporters he believed it was necessary to keep 8chan online in order to aid law enforcement in their investigations of domestic terrorism. Cloudfare has tended to insist it is a neutral service provider and does not make decisions about speech. But Prince noted 8chan has proven itself "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," he wrote. 8chan, an anonymous messaging board, was created in 2013 and gained a dedicated following the next year as users began migrating from 4chan. While both boards branded themselves as spaces free from censorship, 8chan had even less moderation than 4chan, paving the way for the virulent hate that would come to populate the site. Two other mass shootings have been liked to 8chan this year alone. In April, a gunman killed and wounded worshippers in a California synagogue after posting on 8chan’s /pol/ board, which is known largely as a gathering place for neo-Nazis. And in March, a shooter live-streamed the massacre of 50 people to Facebook after posting an anti-immigrant manifesto to 8chan. The Anti-Defamation League in April in written testimony to Congress said fringe websites like 8chan and 4chan “serve as round-the-clock white supremacist rallies.” Congress has hauled in country’s top tech companies for hearings on online extremism and hate speech multiple times this year, but they have not found a way to bring in the owners of fringe platforms like 8chan. The current owner of the platform, a U.S. veteran, currently lives in the Philippines. Companies like Facebook, Twitter, and Google’s YouTube have pledged that they are doing more to coordinate their efforts to take action against organized hate groups. Experts have continued to insist they should do more to ensure extremists are not drawn from those online spaces to the more extreme platforms. Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.), the top Republican on the House Homeland Security Committee, in a statement on Sunday denounced the fringe platforms for “propelling young people toward violence.” “The Homeland Security Committee has been closely tracking the accelerating pace of online radicalization,” he said. “I have made clear that hateful ideologies amplified by 8chan and other fringe websites are propelling young people toward violence before law enforcement is able to act. Yesterday’s events were yet again enabled by the echo chambers these fringe websites have created.” Officials from the FBI, Department of Homeland Security and Department of Justice told the House Homeland Security Committee earlier this year that they are working to take more action against extremism, but they are limited in how much they can investigate domestic actors due to U.S. laws around free speech. “Even if a social media company was able to report to us 'this terrorist has put a manifesto' or 'this person has put up a thing criticizing various ethnic groups,' that’s not something we can investigate ... solely on the basis of that information,” Brad Wiegmann, a DOJ official, told lawmakers at the May hearing. The debate over what to do about those websites has raged for years, as some argue kicking those users off one platform will just push them further into dark corners of the Internet while others say it is productive to cut off the issue at the root. “Unfortunately the action we take today won’t fix hate online,” Prince wrote in the blog post on Sunday. “It will almost certainly not even remove 8chan from the Internet. But it is the right thing to do. Hate online is a real issue.”
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Cloudflare Chief Explains Decision to Shut Down 8Chan, Despite Reservations

Postby smix » Mon Aug 05, 2019 2:40 pm

Cloudflare Chief Explains Decision to Shut Down 8Chan, Despite Reservations
The New York Times

URL: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/05/tech ... -paso.html
Category: Politics
Published: August 5, 2019

Description: Early Monday, 8chan, the anonymous message board where the man accused of carrying out the El Paso massacre posted his manifesto, went offline. The man most responsible for the outage wasn’t Jim Watkins, 8chan’s owner, or his son Ronald, the message board’s administrator. Instead, the decision to take 8chan offline, at least temporarily, fell largely to Matthew Prince, the chief executive of the little-known San Francisco company Cloudflare. Cloudflare provides tools that protect websites from cyberattacks and allows sites to load content more quickly. It is a critical tool for sites like 8chan where extremists gather. Without the kind of protection that Cloudflare offers, 8chan can be barraged by automated, hard-to-prevent attacks from its critics, making it nearly impossible to stay online. Mr. Prince has become an unlikely focal point for critics of 8chan and other vile parts of the internet. Cloudflare’s service protects a large chunk of the internet, and for years, the decade-old company avoided making decisions about which sites deserved protection and which did not. That changed in 2017, after white nationalists held a violent rally in Charlottesville, Va. After the rally, Mr. Prince was pressured to remove The Daily Stormer, a neo-Nazi hate site, from Cloudflare’s service. He eventually agreed to do so. It was a break from the company’s content-neutral stance, and Mr. Prince expressed reservations about his choice. “I woke up in a bad mood and decided someone shouldn’t be allowed on the internet,” he said at the time. “No one should have that power.” But as one of several internet executives with control over the web’s most basic infrastructure, Mr. Prince does have that power. And in the wake of the El Paso shooting, the calls for him to exercise it by revoking 8chan’s security protections grew louder. I wanted to talk to him about how he thought through the decision, and about how he eventually chose to effectively kick 8chan off the internet, if only temporarily. In two interviews on Sunday, Mr. Prince expressed a range of views about Cloudflare’s responsibility with regard to 8chan. In a phone conversation in the early afternoon, Mr. Prince sounded torn: On one hand, 8chan was clearly reprehensible, and depriving it of the protection Cloudfare provides would rid him of a troublesome customer and a huge headache. On the other hand, banning 8chan could set a bad precedent, and it could make it harder for law enforcement authorities to monitor violent extremists. Cloudflare, like other tech companies with a window onto dark internet activity, can share information about crimes with investigators. Banning 8chan “would make our lives a lot easier,” Mr. Prince said, “but it would make the job of law enforcement and controlling hate groups online harder.” Among Cloudflare employees, there was disagreement. Some thought that banning 8chan was a clear-cut moral imperative; others thought it could create a slippery slope to censorship. Douglas Kramer, Cloudflare’s general counsel, spent much of Sunday afternoon telling news outlets that Cloudflare would not ban 8chan because of its content, saying “We’re largely a neutral utility service.” Hours later, Mr. Prince called me back. He had decided to cut off 8chan. He characterized the site as a “lawless” platform that had willfully ignored warnings about violent extremism. Its tolerance for hate, he said, made 8chan different than other sites where extremists gather, like Facebook or Twitter. “They’ve been not only actively ignoring complaints they receive, but sometimes weaponizing those complaints against people who are complaining about them,” Mr. Prince said. “That lawlessness feels like a real distinction from the Facebooks of the world.” Removing 8chan was not a straightforward decision, Mr. Prince said, in part because Cloudflare does not host or promote any of the site’s content. Most people would agree, he said, that a newspaper publisher should be responsible for the stories in the paper. But what about the person who operates the printing press, or the ink supplier? Should they be responsible, too? “It’s dangerous for infrastructure companies to be making what are editorial decisions,” he said. “The deeper you get into the technology stack, the harder it becomes to make those decisions.” Ultimately, Mr. Prince said he decided that 8chan was too centrally organized around hate, and more willing to ignore laws against violent incitement in order to avoid moderating its platform. The realization, along with the multiple mass murders that the authorities have connected to 8chan, tipped the scale in favor of a ban. “If we see a bad thing in the world and we can help get in front of it, we have some obligation to do that,” he said. Mr. Prince, who announced the removal of 8chan from Cloudflare in a 1,300-word blog post on Sunday night, still worries about setting a bad precedent. He theorized that a repressive Middle Eastern government could cite the 8chan example when asking Cloudflare to remove security protections for an L.G.B.T. group inside its borders, since it might technically be “lawless” to promote homosexuality in that country. “We have to make sure we’re setting policies where we can push back on those things,” he said. He added that even if a hacker took advantage of 8chan’s lack of defenses, he did not expect the site to stay offline for long. Many companies now offer security services similar to Cloudflare’s, and it might be possible for 8chan to find another provider in short order. (8chan was down for hours on Monday morning, although its administrator said on Twitter that the site would soon be back up after moving to another security provider, BitMitigate.) It is undeniably true that the underlying problem of online hate is bigger than one website, and that taking 8chan offline, even permanently, would not stop violent hatred from leaping off the internet and onto America’s streets. There will always be another message board, another hosting provider, another security service willing to give harbor to extremists. But as he prepared to serve 8chan with an eviction notice, Mr. Prince sounded sure of his choice. “We’ll see how this turns out,” he said. “I don’t think I’m going to regret this for a second.”



Behind the Scenes, 8chan Scrambles to Get Back Online
The New York Times

URL: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/05/tech ... nline.html
Category: Politics
Published: August 5, 2019

Description: SAN FRANCISCO — Even before 8chan, the anonymous message board, went dark early on Monday morning, the scramble to keep the site online had begun. The message board, which had hosted the anti-immigrant manifesto of the man accused of the El Paso shooting and the hateful messages of other attackers, had gone down after Cloudflare, a security company, decided it would no longer provide it with its services. That left 8chan vulnerable to cyberattacks that could knock it offline. Another internet firm, Tucows, which helps companies register their web addresses, also pulled its support for 8chan on Monday, leaving the message board without a functioning web address. To stay online, 8chan’s administrators raced to find alternatives. They went to Epik, a technology company that could help the site register its web address again. Epik’s subsidiary, BitMitigate, could also protect it from cyberattacks, an 8chan administrator said in a tweet. After 8chan migrated to Epik and BitMitigate, the site flickered back online in some regions. But its return was brief. Voxility, a company that provides computing services to Epik, was criticized by internet executives for indirectly helping to keep 8chan on the web. In response, Voxility severed its relationship with Epik, taking BitMitigate offline in the process — and making 8chan go down again. The behind-the-scenes digital domino effect illustrates how websites like 8chan rely on a complex network of internet infrastructure companies that are unseen by most people but are crucial to keeping these sites around. Dozens of these companies, which are often small and privately owned, provide web addresses, cloud computing power and other basic mechanisms that websites need to exist. Without the backing of these companies, 8chan has limited options for survival. “Some of the biggest service providers of the internet on the planet are generally completely unknown to the average user,” said Tarah Wheeler, a cybersecurity policy fellow at New America, a public policy think tank. She said the infrastructure companies enabled sites of all kinds to be quickly and easily accessible at a low cost. A version of 8chan was still available on Monday afternoon on the so-called dark web, the home of many illegal websites. Bad actors have thrived on the dark web because the technology allows website owners and visitors to obscure their location and internet address, making it harder for law enforcement to find them. The dark web version of 8chan, which was surfaced by the intelligence firm Terbium Labs has the site’s familiar battle cry across the top: “Embrace infamy.” The top headlines on Monday afternoon were all about the weekend shootings in El Paso and Dayton, Ohio. But even on the dark web, companies need service providers to keep their sites up reliably. And the 8chan site was only intermittently available and slow to load, making it nearly impossible to click on the site’s links. Ronald Watkins, an administrator for 8chan, said on Twitter on Monday afternoon that he would wait to see if BitMitigate would be able to restore its services. If not, 8chan would try to get online again anyway, he wrote. Mr. Watkins is the son of Jim Watkins, the owner of 8chan. As of 6 p.m., the message board remained offline. Rob Monster, the chief executive of Epik, said in an email that he had not solicited 8chan’s business and had not decided whether to keep the site as a customer. “Our services fill the ever growing need for a neutral service provider that will not arbitrarily terminate accounts based on social or political pressure,” he said. “Our philosophy is, if the customer is not breaking the law, providers of technology should apply discernment in determining whether or not to service.” At Voxility, Maria Sirbu, the vice president of business development, said it would not work with Epik or BitMitigate again even if those companies ended their relationships with 8chan. “We’re totally against hate speech,” she said. “We are free to terminate the service as we like.” The internet infrastructure companies have distanced themselves from toxic websites before. In 2017, The Daily Stormer, a neo-Nazi forum, was booted off Cloudflare after the site mocked Heather Heyer, a woman who was killed during a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va. The Daily Stormer initially struggled to find companies that would provide the infrastructure it needed to remain online. BitMitigate, which says its services come with “a proven commitment to liberty,” and Epik eventually stepped in to protect it. The Daily Stormer now uses dark web services and overseas hosting providers to stay afloat. But it went offline on Monday after Voxility terminated its business with Epik. 8chan is in an even more delicate position than The Daily Stormer because it appears to help mass killers by providing them with a place to air and spread their violent and often racist messages. Other recent shootings — including at mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, and at a synagogue in Poway, Calif. — were all announced on 8chan before they began. Over the weekend, even one of 8chan’s own founders, Fredrick Brennan, disavowed the online message board, saying, “Shut the site down.” Nick Lim, the founder of BitMitigate, who left the company in May, said he expected 8chan to emerge elsewhere on the internet. The message board could tap other infrastructure and hosting providers for services, experts have said. “I don’t think cutting off BitMitigate and Epik is something that will remove hate from the internet, rather I think it will only push it elsewhere,” Mr. Lim said in a text message. But Alex Stamos, a former Facebook executive who is now the director of the Stanford Internet Observatory, which researches abuses of information technology, said 8chan could ultimately be marginalized, even when it returns online. “We started down the path where 8chan is going to end up in the same place that spammers end up,” said Mr. Stamos. “What you are seeing here is infrastructure companies treating the worst, most vile hate speech like they treat spammers.” Infrastructure companies have long banned spam, malware and other malicious content, and providers of this content have been pushed to overseas hosts, primarily in Russia and Ukraine, or to the dark web, he said. 8chan could follow the same route. “It will be much slower and less reliable, but they’ll still exist,” Mr. Stamos said.
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Terminating Service for 8Chan

Postby smix » Mon Aug 05, 2019 2:51 pm

Terminating Service for 8Chan
The Cloudflare Blog - Matthew Prince

URL: https://new.blog.cloudflare.com/termina ... for-8chan/
Category: Politics
Published: August 5, 2019

Description: The mass shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio are horrific tragedies. In the case of the El Paso shooting, the suspected terrorist gunman appears to have been inspired by the forum website known as 8chan. Based on evidence we've seen, it appears that he posted a screed to the site immediately before beginning his terrifying attack on the El Paso Walmart killing 20 people. Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident. Nearly the same thing happened on 8chan before the terror attack in Christchurch, New Zealand. The El Paso shooter specifically referenced the Christchurch incident and appears to have been inspired by the largely unmoderated discussions on 8chan which glorified the previous massacre. In a separate tragedy, the suspected killer in the Poway, California synagogue shooting also posted a hate-filled “open letter” on 8chan. 8chan has repeatedly proven itself to be a cesspool of hate. 8chan is among the more than 19 million Internet properties that use Cloudflare's service. 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. We do not take this decision lightly. Cloudflare is a network provider. In pursuit of our goal of helping build a better internet, we’ve considered it important to provide our security services broadly to make sure as many users as possible are secure, and thereby making cyberattacks less attractive — regardless of the content of those websites. Many of our customers run platforms of their own on top of our network. If our policies are more conservative than theirs it effectively undercuts their ability to run their services and set their own policies. We reluctantly tolerate content that we find reprehensible, but we draw the line at platforms that have demonstrated they directly inspire tragic events and are lawless by design. 8chan has crossed that line. It will therefore no longer be allowed to use our services.
What Will Happen Next
Unfortunately, we have seen this situation before and so we have a good sense of what will play out. Almost exactly two years ago we made the determination to kick another disgusting site off Cloudflare's network: the Daily Stormer. That caused a brief interruption in the site's operations but they quickly came back online using a Cloudflare competitor. That competitor at the time promoted as a feature the fact that they didn't respond to legal process. Today, the Daily Stormer is still available and still disgusting. They have bragged that they have more readers than ever. They are no longer Cloudflare's problem, but they remain the Internet's problem. I have little doubt we'll see the same happen with 8chan. While removing 8chan from our network takes heat off of us, it does nothing to address why hateful sites fester online. It does nothing to address why mass shootings occur. It does nothing to address why portions of the population feel so disenchanted they turn to hate. In taking this action we've solved our own problem, but we haven't solved the Internet's. In the two years since the Daily Stormer what we have done to try and solve the Internet’s deeper problem is engage with law enforcement and civil society organizations to try and find solutions. Among other things, that resulted in us cooperating around monitoring potential hate sites on our network and notifying law enforcement when there was content that contained an indication of potential violence. We will continue to work within the legal process to share information when we can to hopefully prevent horrific acts of violence. We believe this is our responsibility and, given Cloudflare's scale and reach, we are hopeful we will continue to make progress toward solving the deeper problem.
Rule of Law
We continue to feel incredibly uncomfortable about playing the role of content arbiter and do not plan to exercise it often. Some have wrongly speculated this is due to some conception of the United States' First Amendment. That is incorrect. First, we are a private company and not bound by the First Amendment. Second, the vast majority of our customers, and more than 50% of our revenue, comes from outside the United States where the First Amendment and similarly libertarian freedom of speech protections do not apply. The only relevance of the First Amendment in this case and others is that it allows us to choose who we do and do not do business with; it does not obligate us to do business with everyone. Instead our concern has centered around another much more universal idea: the Rule of Law. The Rule of Law requires policies be transparent and consistent. While it has been articulated as a framework for how governments ensure their legitimacy, we have used it as a touchstone when we think about our own policies. We have been successful because we have a very effective technological solution that provides security, performance, and reliability in an affordable and easy-to-use way. As a result of that, a huge portion of the Internet now sits behind our network. 10% of the top million, 17% of the top 100,000, and 19% of the top 10,000 Internet properties use us today. 10% of the Fortune 1,000 are paying Cloudflare customers. Cloudflare is not a government. While we've been successful as a company, that does not give us the political legitimacy to make determinations on what content is good and bad. Nor should it. Questions around content are real societal issues that need politically legitimate solutions. We will continue to engage with lawmakers around the world as they set the boundaries of what is acceptable in their countries through due process of law. And we will comply with those boundaries when and where they are set. Europe, for example, has taken a lead in this area. As we've seen governments there attempt to address hate and terror content online, there is recognition that different obligations should be placed on companies that organize and promote content — like Facebook and YouTube — rather than those that are mere conduits for that content. Conduits, like Cloudflare, are not visible to users and therefore cannot be transparent and consistent about their policies. The unresolved question is how should the law deal with platforms that ignore or actively thwart the Rule of Law? That's closer to the situation we have seen with the Daily Stormer and 8chan. They are lawless platforms. In cases like these, where platforms have been designed to be lawless and unmoderated, and where the platforms have demonstrated their ability to cause real harm, the law may need additional remedies. We and other technology companies need to work with policy makers in order to help them understand the problem and define these remedies. And, in some cases, it may mean moving enforcement mechanisms further down the technical stack.
Our Obligation
Cloudflare's mission is to help build a better Internet. At some level firing 8chan as a customer is easy. They are uniquely lawless and that lawlessness has contributed to multiple horrific tragedies. Enough is enough. What's hard is defining the policy that we can enforce transparently and consistently going forward. We, and other technology companies like us that enable the great parts of the Internet, have an obligation to help propose solutions to deal with the parts we're not proud of. That's our obligation and we're committed to it. Unfortunately the action we take today won’t fix hate online. It will almost certainly not even remove 8chan from the Internet. But it is the right thing to do. Hate online is a real issue. Here are some organizations that have active work to help address it:
* Anti-Defamation League
* Gen Next Foundation
* Perspective API
* 7 Cups
Our whole Cloudflare team’s thoughts are with the families grieving in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio this evening.
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8chan far-right forum offline as Cloudflare cuts support

Postby smix » Mon Aug 05, 2019 3:30 pm

8chan far-right forum offline as Cloudflare cuts support
BBC News

URL: https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-49232333?
Category: Technology
Published: August 5, 2019

Description: The far-right web forum 8chan, used to celebrate mass shootings and spread suspects' so-called “manifestos”, has been forced offline after losing its cyber-security protection. Cloudflare, a San Francisco-based firm that provides added security for websites to prevent cyber-attacks, said it would stop protecting 8chan at midnight Pacific Time (08:00 BST) on Monday. The 21-year-old suspect in this weekend’s shooting in El Paso, Texas, is understood to have used 8chan to spread his manifesto. Previously, the site was also used by the suspect in March’s shooting in Christchurch, New Zealand, as well as the suspect in April's synagogue shooting in Poway, California. Losing Cloudflare’s protection has made 8chan vulnerable to a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack, whereby a website is bombarded with traffic that overwhelms its servers, rendering it inaccessible. A few minutes after the Cloudflare service was withdrawn, 8chan did indeed become unavailable. However, 8chan's site administrator says it was moving to another security firm, BitMitigate, based in the US state of Washington. BitMitigate's website says it has "a proven commitment to liberty". BitMitigate stepped in to help neo-Nazi site the Daily Stormer when it lost Cloudflare protection in 2017. The BBC has approached BitMitigate for comment. But at this time 8Chan remains offline. Cloudflare chief executive Matthew Prince had said, in the wake of Saturday’s shootings, that his firm would continue to support 8chan as its policy was to remain neutral over the type of content the service protected. However, on Sunday evening Mr Prince wrote in a blog post that "8chan has repeatedly proven itself to be a cesspool of hate”. “They have proven themselves to be lawless and that lawlessness has caused multiple tragic deaths,” Mr Prince wrote. "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.” Mr Prince warned that while 8chan would be disrupted by Cloudflare’s decision, it would likely be able to rebuild itself - as was the case when Cloudflare stopped providing protection for the Daily Stormer, a neo-Nazi site, in 2017. “They quickly came back online using a Cloudflare competitor,” Mr Prince wrote. "That competitor at the time promoted as a feature the fact that they didn't respond to legal process. He added: "I have little doubt we'll see the same happen with 8chan. While removing 8chan from our network takes heat off of us, it does nothing to address why hateful sites fester online. It does nothing to address why mass shootings occur. It does nothing to address why portions of the population feel so disenchanted they turn to hate. "In taking this action we've solved our own problem, but we haven't solved the internet’s.”
How do Cloudflare and BitMitigate services work?
The two companies protect websites from attacks, as well as making websites load more quickly for legitimate users. They can be thought of as a kind of bouncer or security guard for websites that get a large amount of traffic, or may be a likely target of cyber-attacks. They use technology that can verify where internet traffic is coming from and what it is trying to do. They can distinguish whether the visitor is a genuine person, a network of automated bots that is being used to flood a website or requests that keep servers too busy to handle normal uses. They are meant to block any attempts from "bad" traffic getting through. Cloudflare provides protection for more than 12 million websites, and is expected to float on the stock market later this year. Chief executive Matthew Prince has expressed concern at the power his company has to decide whether or not a website is able to exist on the open internet.
--
8chan is a forum created in 2013 by Fredrick Brennan as an alternative to 4chan, a message board popular with gamers. 8chan promised less moderation of controversial topics and images that were being removed from 4chan. As such, 8chan has hosted far-right extremist views and imagery. Mr Brennan gave up ownership of 8chan in 2015 and has since called for it to be shut down. Following Cloudflare’s announcement, he wrote on Twitter: "Thank you so much @CloudFlare Finally this nightmare might have an end.” 8chan is now owned and run by Jim Watkins, a former US army veteran, believed to be living in the Philippines.



8chan: Where are users going now?
BBC News

URL: https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-49249574
Category: Technology
Published: August 6, 2019

Description: The owner of the 8chan message boards says "a large community of one million people are now looking for a home", after the site was driven offline. On Monday, cyber-security company Cloudflare withdrew its protection services from 8chan and minutes later the site was unavailable. Critics say 8chan users spread hate speech and celebrated mass shootings. In a YouTube video, 8chan owner Jim Watkins said he worked with law enforcement and complied with the law. He described 8chan as a "blank page" where people could write their thoughts, even if they may be offensive to others.
Why is 8chan offline?
Cloudflare said it had withdrawn its services because 8chan had "repeatedly proven itself to be a cesspool of hate". Losing Cloudflare's protection made 8chan vulnerable to a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack. The website was bombarded with traffic that overwhelmed its servers, rendering it inaccessible. In response, 8chan switched to BitMitigate, a cyber-protection service owned by a web hosting company called Epik. BitMitigate also provided protection to the neo-Nazi site the Daily Stormer. But then BitMitigate itself was driven offline. Both Epik and BitMitigate relied on infrastructure provided by another company, Voxility. And Voxility decided to remove Epik and BitMitigate from its network. "Hate speech is totally against our service policy," a spokeswoman told BBC News. "This is a firm stand from Voxility... we all should work for a safer internet," she said.
Where will users go?
One 8chan admin said he was working to increase the site's availability on the dark web, although users will need the right software and know-how to access 8chan this way. Mr Watkins said he was working to get 8chan back online but being driven offline had "forced a lot of people to find other places to talk". Some users migrated to the Reddit-inspired message board Voat, although this website also faced DDoS attacks on Tuesday and disabled account registration. In his video, Mr Watkins acknowledged Cloudflare and Voxility were private companies entitled to reject his custom. But his supporters say moves to "de-platform" controversial websites will further efforts to decentralise the internet. The controversial social network Gab has already made moves in this direction. Gab describes itself as a platform for free speech and has become popular with neo-Nazis and far-right personalities banned from sites such as Facebook and Twitter. And the company has made the code that powers its platform open source, so anybody can take it and host their own version of Gab. There are also projects such as ZeroNet, which is designed to decentralise web hosting. Instead of storing information on a web server, ZeroNet shares data among thousands of users - similar to the way films are shared via torrents. A copycat version of 8chan has already appeared on ZeroNet. And in theory any messages posted cannot be removed by administrators or law enforcement, because the content is shared across so many different devices.
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8chan goes dark after hardware provider discontinues service

Postby smix » Mon Aug 05, 2019 7:31 pm

8chan goes dark after hardware provider discontinues service
The Verge

URL: https://www.theverge.com/2019/8/5/20754 ... speech-ban
Category: Politics
Published: August 5, 2019

Description: ‘This is not tolerable,’ said server rental provider Voxility
Internet hate forum 8chan has gone dark after web services company Voxility banned the site — and also banned 8chan’s new host Epik, which had been leasing web space from it. Epik began working with 8chan today after web services giant Cloudflare cut off service, following the latest of at least three mass shootings linked to 8chan. But Stanford researcher Alex Stamos noted that Epik seemed to lease servers from Voxility, and when Voxility discovered the content, it cut ties with Epik almost immediately. “As soon as we were notified of the content that Epik was hosting, we made the decision to totally ban them,” Voxility business development VP Maria Sirbu told The Verge. Sirbu said it was unlikely that Voxility would work with Epik again. “This is the second situation we’ve had with the reseller and this is not tolerable,” she said.
In case you were wondering, it looks like the new host of 8chan and Daily Stormer will effectively be @voxility. It looks like Epik/Bitmitigate owns very little of their own hardware and instead rents Voxility's servers and AS.
— Alex Stamos (@alexstamos) August 5, 2019

Epik’s website remains accessible, but 8chan — which was available earlier this morning — now returns an error message. Epik didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment, so it’s not clear what its next steps will be or how heavily it depended on Voxility. Over the past year, Epik has raised its profile by working with far-right-friendly sites (like Gab) that have been banned by other web service companies. Earlier this year, it acquired the denial-of-service protection service BitMitigate, which has previously stepped in to protect sites like the neo-Nazi site Daily Stormer. CEO Rob Monster confirmed that Epik was serving 8chan this morning, though he said Epik had not proactively solicited business from the site. “Our services fill the ever growing need for a neutral service provider that will not terminate accounts based on arbitrary reasoning or political pressure,” Monster wrote. “From what little we know so far, the chans are not lawless and do have moderation, especially in regards to DMCA and content which is illegal in the United States.” Cloudflare, by contrast, said that while 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 noted that its actions were unlikely to keep 8chan offline, but Voxility has at least temporarily done so.
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8chan Faces Roadblock in Efforts to Return to Service

Postby smix » Mon Aug 05, 2019 8:12 pm

8chan Faces Roadblock in Efforts to Return to Service
The Wall Street Journal

URL: https://www.wsj.com/articles/fringe-mes ... 1564990191
Category: Politics
Published: August 5, 2019

Description: Epik, the host for the online forum used by the suspect in the El Paso, Texas, mass shooting, had its content blocked by a cloud-services provider
Online forum 8chan, used by the suspect in an El Paso, Texas, mass shooting that left 22 people dead, is facing a concerted effort to block its return after an internet-infrastructure provider cut off support Sunday night. Administrators for 8chan had found a different service provider, but those plans were derailed Monday when its new host Epik Inc., which also hosts online forum Gab.com among other sites, had its content blocked by its cloud-services provider Voxility. Voxility said it cut ties with BitMitigate, a unit of Bellevue, Wash., web-services company Epik, as a customer after identifying web traffic from 8chan was moving across its network. 8chan initially went dark after Cloudflare Inc. said Sunday it would terminate the site as a customer, a move that came after a manifesto from the alleged shooter was posted on the forum. “We take a firm stance against hate speech,” said Maria Sirbu, an executive at London-based Voxility. She said messages from people on social media alerted the company to the matter, which made a swift decision to cut ties with BitMitigate. Ronald Watkins, the administrator of 8chan and the son of 8chan owner Jim Watkins, tweeted early Monday morning that the forum was migrating to BitMitigate and to “expect some minutes of downtime.” Ronald Watkins didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment. Epik Chief Executive Rob Monster couldn’t immediately be reached for comment. BitMitigate says on its website that it is responsible for ensuring “absolute free speech.” “We are not specialists in law enforcement nor do we attempt to be,” BitMitigate says in its terms of service. “We leave law enforcement to the experts and will not stop service to any of our clients unless by final court order.” Alex Stamos, former security chief of Facebook Inc., said he alerted Voxility on Twitter that he believed 8chan-host Epik was using its servers. Voxility responded less than 30 minutes later saying it was urgently addressing the matter. Mr. Stamos, who is now director of Stanford University’s Internet Observatory, said he used publicly available information to determine that Epik was renting Voxility’s servers and reselling them to its own customers. “The fact that legitimate tech companies are supporting 8chan makes it less likely that private industry can take care of itself, but legislation will be worse than private action,” Mr. Stamos said, particularly outside the U.S. because he believes many foreign governments would enact overreaching laws. Fewer corners of the internet are available to sites like 8chan because the tech industry broadly is taking a tougher stance against extremist content. Large social-media companies such as Facebook and Google parent Alphabet Inc. have been trying to moderate online content, after being accused by some law-enforcement authorities, politicians and others of doing an inadequate job—allowing the likes of violent live videos, harassment of users and Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. In a blog post Sunday, Cloudflare Chief Executive Matthew Prince said although it terminated 8chan as a customer, he was confident it would resume operating elsewhere. “While removing 8chan from our network takes heat off of us, it does nothing to address why hateful sites fester online,” Mr. Prince wrote. “It does nothing to address why mass shootings occur. It does nothing to address why portions of the population feel so disenchanted they turn to hate. In taking this action we’ve solved our own problem, but we haven’t solved the Internet’s.” 8chan’s main website went offline before midnight, though its mobile site still had some content. “There might be some downtime in the next 24-48 hours while we find a solution (that includes our email so timely compliance with law enforcement requests may be affected),” 8chan posted Sunday night on its Twitter page. The manifesto of the man detained in connection with the shooting in an El Paso Walmart was posted on 8chan. Authorities on Sunday said they were looking into the El Paso shooting as a possible case of domestic terrorism. Several accused far-right shooters appear to have used 8chan to telegraph their intended attacks including the alleged perpetrator of a rampage that killed 50 people in mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, in March, and April’s synagogue shooting in Poway, Calif. People seeking to express extremist views have increasingly migrated to less-policed websites. The 8chan message board was founded in 2013 as a bastion of unconstrained speech critiquing what its creator saw as the dominance of left-wing views in culture and politics. Though available on the open internet, it was often blocked by corporate firewalls and wasn’t indexed by Google’s search engine. 8chan tends to see a spike in visitors whenever it is linked to a mass shooting, according to social-media analytics company Storyful, which showed that the number of visitors to the site had nearly doubled in March, following the posting of a manifesto written by the alleged Christchurch, New Zealand, shooter. The site hosts around 140,000 posts a month on average. Storyful is owned by News Corp , which also owns Wall Street Journal publisher Dow Jones & Co. “If 8chan goes down they’ll just start posting on [Internet forums] 4chan or Reddit,” or other similar outlets, said Scott Earnest, who spent more than a decade as an online moderator on the Daily Stormer, a popular white-nationalist web forum. Mr. Earnest, 40 years old, said he was one of the most prolific posters on the site before disengaging with the community in 2015 because of users’ incitement to violence. But taking such sites down wouldn’t necessarily curb the growth of such communities, he said. “If you take it down, you still have people getting radicalized but you don’t know where they’re getting radicalized. They could be making a secret Facebook group” or a discussion group on Discord, a chat platform for gamers, Mr. Earnest said. It was more effective to ban specific users on Twitter and Facebook who were inciting hate speech, he added. Discussion groups hosted through gaming-focused platforms like Discord and Steam, along with the forum site 4chan, have been routes for visitors into 8chan, according to Storyful. Cloudflare’s Mr. Prince said in his blog post Sunday that removing 8chan from his company’s network won’t help prevent such forums from surviving online. “It does nothing to address why hateful sites fester online,” he said. “In taking this action we’ve solved our own problem, but we haven’t solved the Internet’s.” Mr. Prince said in his post that Cloudflare monitors potential hate sites on its network and reports content that contains an indication of potential violence to law enforcement. When Cloudflare severed ties with the Daily Stormer two years ago, it was the first time the company removed a client for reasons other than under court order or for explicit violations of their terms of service. “We will continue to work within the legal process to share information when we can to hopefully prevent horrific acts of violence,” Mr. Prince said in his Sunday blog post. Demographic information of people who visit 8chan isn’t readily available, said Jacob Davey, who researches the online spread of far-right movements for the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, a London-based research organization. Based on the communities that flourish there, they are likely to be young, white and male, and potentially social outsiders, he said. The website also plays host to a range of extremist communities such as “incel” groups, pedophiles, organized networks of cyber bullies, as well as the Qanon, or so-called “deep-state” conspiracy communities. Incel is short for involuntary celibate and refers to an extremist mysoginistic community grown from a shared inability to form romantic relationships with others.



8chan Owner Defends Speech Forum in Wake of El Paso Shooting
The Wall Street Journal

URL: https://www.wsj.com/articles/8chan-owne ... 1565108749
Category: Politics
Published: August 6, 2019

Description: Jim Watkins says internet-services firm Cloudflare’s move to end support was politically motivated
The owner of online forum 8chan defended his company in a YouTube video Tuesday against the internet-services provider that effectively took it offline and against attempts to silence platforms of speech. Jim Watkins, an internet entrepreneur who took control of 8chan in 2015, said the forum has been helping law enforcement with its investigation into a shooting in an El Paso, Texas, Walmart store over the weekend that left 22 people dead and more than 20 injured. He said he believed a manifesto allegedly written by the suspected shooter was uploaded to 8chan by another user and not the suspect himself. “I don’t know if he wrote it or not but it was not uploaded by the murderer. That is clear,” he said. Attempts to reach Mr. Watkins for additional comment weren’t successful. 8chan is an online message board in which users can anonymously post text, though discussions tend to be driven by images. It is moderated by employees, who are believed to play a limited role since 8chan has described itself as a bastion of unconstrained free speech. The forum has been linked to accused shooters of the Christchurch, New Zealand, mosque massacre in March and April’s synagogue shooting in Poway, Calif. The man accused of the October shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue that left 11 dead allegedly used another fringe online forum, called Gab.com, to broadcast his intentions. Gab.com later said it had suspended the account. Mr. Watkins said Cloudflare Inc.’s move to end support for 8chan on Sunday was politically motivated and left the forum’s one million users without a home to freely express opinions. He alleged that Cloudflare did so because he believes it is pursuing an initial public offering. “It is disturbing to me that it could be so easily shut down,” said Mr. Watkins about 8chan in the roughly seven-and-a-half-minute video in which he speaks into a camera with “Taps” playing in the background. Cloudflare “has dispersed a peacefully assembled group of people talking,” he said. Multiple times in the video, Mr. Watkins offered condolences to the victims of the shootings in El Paso and Dayton, Ohio, and said “thoughts and prayers are for the victims of the violence everywhere." He also said he hoped 8chan service will be restored shortly. A representative for Cloudflare said the company doesn’t comment on rumor or speculation in regard to the IPO allegations and referred to Chief Executive Matthew Prince’s blog post Sunday on the reason the company parted ways with 8chan. “The rationale is simple,” said Mr. Prince in the blog post. “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.” On Monday, Cloudflare general counsel Doug Kramer added that the company’s decision to cease business with 8chan was prompted by media reports connecting the online forum to several deadly shootings, not just the one that took place Saturday in El Paso. He declined to comment on whether Cloudflare is pursuing an IPO or not. While Cloudflare has previously said its duty isn’t to police content, in 2017 it ceased service to the Daily Stormer, a bulletin board for self-proclaimed white supremacists, after Daily Stormer began claiming that Cloudflare secretly supported its ideology. After Cloudflare cut ties with 8chan, the forum said Monday it was working with another internet-services provider, Epik Inc.’s BitMitigate, to restore the website. But later in the day, a cloud-services company that Epik worked with dropped it as a customer, leaving 8chan offline. Epik Chief Executive Rob Monster has previously described removing sites from platforms as digital censorship. He didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. 8chan founder Frederick Brennan, who ceded control of the forum in 2015, praised Cloudflare on Twitter and criticized Mr. Watkins, urging him to shutter 8chan. “The only ones who will suffer from 8chan going down are mass shooters who planned to use it as a platform and Jim Watkins,” Mr. Brennan tweeted Monday night. In his YouTube video Tuesday, Mr. Watkins also accused the country’s largest tech companies of unfairly blaming 8chan for the rampage in El Paso, though he didn’t call out any by name. “The spirit of what the President of the United States asked tech companies to do has been violated,” he said. “Let’s look at the deflection that took place here: publicly companies casting blame for murder on small, private, law-abiding companies.”



Police Launch 8chan Probe in Philippines, Where Owner, Founder Live
The Wall Street Journal

URL: https://www.wsj.com/articles/police-lau ... 1565265481
Category: Politics
Published: August 8, 2019

Description: Investigators look for any negligence in moderation of site linked to U.S. mass shootings
Police in the Philippines said they had opened an investigation into 8chan, an online message board whose American owner lives in the country, following allegations that the site’s no-exceptions embrace of free speech has made it a platform for far-right ideologies linked to several mass shootings. The investigation is in its earliest stages and seeks to establish whether 8chan and its owner, Jim Watkins, had been negligent in their moderation of the fringe site, which was founded in 2013. The site was allegedly used by a man charged with the killings of 20 people and injuring 26 in a rampage in El Paso, Texas, last week. “The first thing we want to know is the influence of 8chan in the Philippines,” Lt. Col. Elpidio Ramirez, chief investigating officer in the case, said in an interview. Mr. Ramirez said police had sought cooperation from Mr. Watkins and 8chan’s founder, Fredrick Brennan, who also resides in the country. The scope of the investigation focuses on 8chan’s influence in the Philippines and was triggered after the site was linked to the El Paso shooting. Authorities are operating independently from a separate inquiry in the U.S., Mr. Ramirez said. Mr. Watkins, an internet entrepreneur who took control of 8chan in 2015, didn’t respond to an emailed request for comment. He earlier defended his company in a YouTube video posted Tuesday in which he said the forum had been helping law enforcement in the U.S. with an investigation into the El Paso shooting. He offered condolences to the victims of the shooting but criticized anyone who would accuse 8chan of facilitating violent crime. The site’s founder, Mr. Brennan, said Thursday that he was cooperating with police in the Philippines but declined to comment further until he had met personally with the investigating officers. He has criticized Mr. Watkins, distancing himself from the site’s current ownership and calling for it to be shut down. 8chan is an online message board in which users can anonymously post text, though discussions tend to be driven by images. It is moderated by employees, who are believed to play a limited role since 8chan has described itself as a bastion of unconstrained free speech. The site was linked to a mass shooting in mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, in March, and an April synagogue shooting in Poway, Calif., in addition to the El Paso shooting last week. Mr. Watkins said he believed a manifesto allegedly written by the suspected shooter was first posted to Facebook Inc.’s Instagram and then uploaded to 8chan by another user—not by the suspect himself. Facebook, which owns Instagram, said Tuesday that the company has “found nothing that supports this theory” that the manifesto first appeared on its platform. While other online forums, including mainstream social-media companies such as Facebook Inc. and Twitter Inc., have similarly been accused of providing a platform for hate speech and extremism, 8chan is attracting intense scrutiny for failing to take action to moderate such content. Facebook and Twitter have sought to remove content that violates the law and their own rules. 8chan has branded itself as a stalwart of free speech. The U.S. House Homeland Security Committee on Tuesday wrote to Mr. Watkins asking him to testify about 8chan’s hosting of content linked to mass shootings. The committee called on Mr. Watkins to explain what he as the owner and operator of 8chan had done to address the alleged proliferation of extremist content. Mr. Watkins and Mr. Brennan have both lived in the Philippines for several years. Mr. Watkins appears to have left the country, Philippine officials said Wednesday. A post on 8chan’s official Twitter account posted Wednesday appeared to show a screen shot of an email sent by Mr. Watkins to the House committee saying that he was travelling back to the U.S., though it didn’t say from where he departed. 8chan remained offline Thursday. It initially went dark Sunday after its previous web-services provider, Cloudflare Inc., ended its relationship with the site.
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Dumped by Cloudflare, 8chan gets back online—then gets kicked off again

Postby smix » Mon Aug 05, 2019 8:37 pm

Dumped by Cloudflare, 8chan gets back online—then gets kicked off again
Ars Technica

URL: https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/201 ... y-stormer/
Category: Politics
Published: August 5, 2019

Description: 8chan and Daily Stormer now both offline as a cloud provider cuts off access.
8chan was able to get back online today despite Cloudflare cutting it off, as operators of the controversial website quickly found a new provider of CDN and DDoS protection services. But as of this writing, 8chan is offline again, apparently as a result of a cloud provider cutting off 8chan's new vendor. Cloudflare CEO Matthew Prince announced his decision to boot 8chan yesterday, noting that a suspected terrorist gunman apparently "posted a screed to [8chan] immediately before beginning his terrifying attack on the El Paso Walmart killing 20 people." In the past, 8chan was used similarly by perpetrators of attacks at a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand and a synagogue in Poway, California. "8chan has repeatedly proven itself to be a cesspool of hate," Prince wrote. But Prince noted that 8chan would likely find a new provider and get itself back online—and as predicted, 8chan quickly switched its website over to a provider called BitMitigate, the same company that began serving the Daily Stormer after Cloudflare cut it off. "All our domains have been removed from Cloudflare, so we will be moving to another service ASAP," 8chan administrator Ron Watkins wrote on Twitter late last night. "Expect some minutes of downtime in the coming hour as we switch over to @bitmitigate," Watkins wrote in a subsequent post. Four hours later, Watkins wrote that "8chan is coming back online across the world as [new DNS records are] propagated." The resurgence was short-lived, as BitMitigate's cloud infrastructure provider said it shut off that company's service. When Stanford Internet Observatory Director Alex Stamos pointed out that BitMitigate primarily rents hardware from Voxility instead of using its own, Voxility's Twitter account promised that "all content will be blocked shortly." Voxility is an infrastructure-as-a-service provider. "We provide services to ISPs and hosting resellers and as a telco we do not have access to websites hosted by customers of our customers," Voxility also said. "We cannot deal with the websites directly, but we are now working on removing the reseller from the network." Shortly after these tweets, the 8chan, Daily Stormer, and BitMitigate websites all went offline.
BitMitigate and Daily Stormer
BitMitigate is similar to Cloudflare in that it provides protection against DDoS attacks along with a content delivery network and DNS services. But while Cloudflare has made several exceptions to its commitment to free speech, BitMitigate has been happy to provide services to any website regardless of its content. In 2017 when Cloudflare cut off the Daily Stormer, a neo-Nazi, white-supremacist website, BitMitigate helped the site get back online.. BitMitigate founder Nicholas Lim explained the decision at the time in a post titled "A Commitment to Liberty." Lim wrote:
BitMitigate has decided to continue offering DDoS protection to The Daily Stormer despite our extremely contrasting beliefs in regards to the content that they produce. It is important to keep in mind that we do not endorse, create, or even host the content at The Daily Stormer but rather protect their website from being taken offline in protest via methods such as DDoS attacks. The question isn't whether or not the content at The Daily Stormer should exist, but rather whether or not it is the responsibility of technology companies to be consistent in defending the right to freedom of expression enshrined within our constitution.

Lim later sold BitMitigate to Epik, a hosting provider with a similarly absolutist approach to free speech. Epik last year began providing services to Gab, a self-described "free speech social network" that has attracted plenty of antisemitic users. Gab lost several of its service providers in 2018 when it turned out the suspect in a mass shooting at a synagogue in Pittsburgh was a regular Gab user. "De-platforming a haven of free speech is not about left or right," Epik founder Robert Monster wrote in a November 2018 post explaining the decision to welcome Gab as a customer. Monster has been a regular Gab user since then. BitMitigate has maintained the same approach under its new owner. "BitMitigate has an extremely liberal terms of use policy," the company says on its website. "As long as it is legal we will provide you our services. We are not specialists in law enforcement nor do we attempt to be. We leave law enforcement to the experts and will not stop service to any of our clients unless by final court order." (Ars was able to view BitMitigate's website before it also went offline today.)
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