The “free speech friendly 4-chan alternative” site had become a magnet for violent extremists.
8chan’s founder, Fredrick Brennan, 25, has distanced himself from the site that he started in 2013 and has called for it to be shut down.
Brennan, who lives in the Philippines, was getting ready for church when he heard about the shooting in El Paso. He immediately checked to see if there was a connection to 8chan, and there was. The shooter posted a 4-page message on the site and asked his “brothers” to share his manifesto.
In recent months, 8chan has become a go-to resource for violent extremists. At least three mass shootings this year — including the mosque killings in Christchurch, New Zealand, and the synagogue shooting in Poway, Calif. — have been announced in advance on the site, often accompanied by racist writings that seem engineered to go viral on the internet.
Mr. Brennan started the online message board as a free speech utopia. But now, 8chan is known as something else: a megaphone for mass shooters, and a recruiting platform for violent white nationalists.
Brennan gave up control of the site in 2015 to Jim Watkins, a United States Army veteran, living in the Philippines.
On Sunday, the site was criticized as a “breeding ground for violence” and many lobbied service providers for 8chan to have the site removed.
One of these providers, the security company Cloudflare, initially indicated on Sunday that it would not cut off 8chan’s access to its network. But later in the day, Cloudflare said it would ban the site after all, depriving Mr. Watkins of a critical tool for keeping the site online.
Matthew Prince, Cloudflare’s chief executive, said the decision to shut off 8chan’s protections was made after determining that the site had allowed an environment of violent extremism to fester, and that 8chan ignored complaints about violent content in a way that larger platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter, have not.
“We’ve seen a pattern where this lawless community has demonstrated its ability to create real harm and real damage,” Mr. Prince said of 8chan. “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.”
Brennan, says that he got the idea for the site when he was on psychedelic mushrooms and was growing increasingly frustrated with the restrictions on the more popular message board, 4chan.
He wanted to create a site where all legal speech could be posted — a “free speech utopia.”
8chan became a refuge for those who were kicked off of 4chan in the wake of GamerGate, where the new-fangled gender-theory feminists labeled gamers as misogynists because of the sexist tropes in the games.
The site remained on the fringes until 2014, when some supporters of GamerGate — a loose reactionary collection of anti-feminist video gamers — flocked to 8chan after being kicked off 4chan.
What Brennan didn’t expect, however, was that the site would be flooded by people with horrible ideas, and the horrible ideas were embraced and amplified instead of critiqued and shunned.
Since GamerGate, 8chan has become a catchall website for internet-based communities whose behavior gets them evicted from more mainstream sites. It hosts one of the largest gatherings of supporters of QAnon, who claim that there is an international bureaucracy plotting against the Trump administration. And it has been an online home for “incels,” men who lament being “involuntarily celibate,” and other fringe movements.
“8chan is almost like a bulletin board where the worst offenders go to share their terrible ideas,” said Jonathan Greenblatt, the chief executive of the Anti-Defamation League. “It’s become a sounding board where people share ideas, and where these kinds of ideologies are amplified and expanded on, and ultimately, people are radicalized as a result.”
Brennan is now saying that the site should be shut down completely.
“Shut the site down,” Mr. Brennan said in an interview. “It’s not doing the world any good. It’s a complete negative to everybody except the users that are there. And you know what? It’s a negative to them, too. They just don’t realize it.”
Source: New York Times
The regret for creating 8chan is nothing new for Brennan. He said as much in the wake of the Christchurch shooting.
In a March interview, after the Christchurch, New Zealand shooting, Brennan told The Wall Street Journal he was sorry about creating 8chan, warning of more shootings that could be triggered by the posts on 8chan’s boards. He stated, “It was very difficult in the days that followed to know that I had created that site. It wouldn’t surprise me if this happens again.”
The Times reported that on Sunday, a banner at the top of 8chan’s home page read, “Welcome to 8chan, the Darkest Reaches of the Internet.”
Brennan concluded, “I’ve tried to understand so many times why he keeps it going, and I just don’t get it.”
Source: Daily Wire
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