Cloudflare is booting internet forum 8chan from using its services after the forum site was again allegedly used to announce a deadly attack before it was carried out.
CEO Matthew Prince said in a blog post that 8chan had been served a notice terminating its access to Cloudflare’s services. Those services include protection from distributed denial-of-service attacks (DDoS).
Prince said 8chan had “repeatedly proven itself to be a cesspool of hate” - used to publish details of successive attacks.
He said 8chan is “among more than 19 million Internet properties that use Cloudflare's service” but that they would be cut off because “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,” Prince wrote.
8chan is one of only a handful of sites to ever be removed from Cloudflare, which has tried to stay neutral in protecting sites, regardless of what content they host.
The company had been sticking to that position when faced with questions over the past 24 hours following a deadly shooting in Texas, but chose to make an exception today.
“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,” Prince wrote.
“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.”
Prince noted that 8chan was likely to be able to source similar services from a competitor, as had happened in past instances.
“While removing 8chan from our network takes heat off of us, it does nothing to address why hateful sites fester online,” Prince said.
“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 said that Cloudflare remained “incredibly uncomfortable about playing the role of content arbiter and do not plan to exercise it often.”
“Cloudflare is not a government,” he said.
“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.”