At least 20 people were killed, and dozens injured, in the recent mass shooting in El Paso, Texas.
The suspected gunman allegedly used 8chan to spread his message – and now its founder wants the website shut down.
Fredrick Brennan founded the online messaging board in 2013 – but he cut ties with it in December 2018 – and says it breeds a ‘receptive audience for domestic terrorists’.
As reported by The Washington Post, Brennan said:
Once again, a terrorist used 8chan to spread his message as he knew people would save it and spread it. The board is a receptive audience for domestic terrorists.
The software developer added that the site’s owners should ‘do the world a favor and shut it off’.
Brennan’s concerns come as authorities say they are investigating a hateful, anti-immigrant manifesto which circulated the web in the hours before the deadly attack in El Paso. El Paso Police Chief Greg Allen said they are still working to determine whether the shooter absolutely penned the document.
The manifesto is a hateful, racist text that outlines the author’s disdain for Hispanic people and the fear they will take over Texas and turn it into a ‘Democratic stronghold’.
The author also takes shots at both political parties, blaming the Republicans for spurring further immigration with their ‘pro-corporation’ stance.
This isn’t the first time Brennan has spoke out against his creation. Following the Christchurch, New Zealand, shooting in March, which left 51 people dead and 49 others injured, it emerged that the shooter published an expansive 74-page manifesto on 8chan, outlining their intentions to ‘create an atmosphere of fear’. The El Paso incident is believed to be the third shooting this year in which the suspect is believed to have posted on 8chan prior to attacking.
As reported by The Wall Street Journal, Brennan said in March:
It was very difficult in the days that followed [the Christchurch shooting] to know that I had created that site. It wouldn’t surprise me if this happens again.
Some have feared that a shutdown of 8chan would only lead extremist groups to publish content in other areas of the internet. In recent months, those who run the site seem to be unwavering in the face of criticism, adding a message at the top of its homepage: ‘Embrace infamy.’
Though, there has been some progress. US cyber security firm Cloudfare have terminated 8chan as a customer following the El Paso shooting.
In a blog post, Cloudflare’s Chief Executive Officer, Matthew Prince, said:
The rationale is simple: 8chan 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 added that ‘8chan has repeatedly proven itself to be a cesspool of hate’ and that they haven’t taken the decision lightly. There may be some downtime over the next couple of days, according to 8chan’s Twitter account.
Have a look at their tweet below:
Some of you might’ve read the @Cloudflare news already. They're dropping 8chan. https://t.co/FQJrv9wzvn
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 (8ch.net) (@infinitechan) August 5, 2019
However, as much as Cloudfare’s actions are a positive step, it will not prevent 8chan from operating online.
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.
Brennan welcomed the move on Twitter, thanking Cloudfare and saying that the nightmare may finally come to an end.
Have a look at Brennan’s tweet below:
Thank you so much @CloudFlare. Finally this nightmare might have an end. I just want to go back to making my fonts in peace and not have to worry about getting phone calls from CNN/New York Times every time a mass shooting happens. They could have prevented this and chose not to.
— Fredrick Brennan (@HW_BEAT_THAT) August 5, 2019
Another mass shooting took place just hours after El Paso. In Dayton, Ohio, nine people were killed and 27 wounded. There have been more than 250 mass shootings this year in the US alone.
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After graduating from Glasgow Caledonian University with an NCTJ and BCTJ-accredited Multimedia Journalism degree, Cameron ventured into the world of print journalism at The National, while also working as a freelance film journalist on the side, becoming an accredited Rotten Tomatoes critic in the process. He’s now left his Scottish homelands and took up residence at UNILAD as a journalist.