After 8chan Possibly Linked To Another Shooting, Cloudflare CEO Defends Hosting It

The Guardian learned that the suspected mass shooter at an El Paso, Texas Walmart “is believed to also have posted a white nationalist rant on 8chan” — then interviewed the CEO of the company hosting it.

If the connection between the 21-year-old suspect in Saturday’s massacre and the 8chan document is confirmed — and law enforcement sources told NBC News that they are “reasonably confident” that they are linked — then the El Paso attack will mark the third mass shooting in less than six months that was announced in advance on the message board… Throughout the day on Saturday, 8chan users discussed the massacre and the suspect, with many referring to the alleged shooter as “our guy” and praising the number of people killed…

UPDATE: 8:25 p.m. PST: Cloudflare’s CEO announced that they are in fact terminating 8chan, effective at midnight PST.

Here are his remarks to the Guardian less than 24 hours earlier…

“If I could wave a magic wand and make all of the bad things that are on the internet go away — and I personally would put the Daily Stormer and 8chan in that category of bad things — I would wave that magic wand tomorrow,” [Cloudflare CEO Matthew] Prince said. “It would be the easiest thing in the world and it would feel incredibly good for us to kick 8chan off our network, but I think it would step away from the obligation that we have and cause that community to still exist and be more lawless over time.”

Prince argued that keeping “bad” sites within Cloudflare’s network means that the company is able to help monitor activity and flag illegal content to law enforcement. While he would not comment on specifics, he said that Cloudflare receives “regular requests” from law enforcement not to ban certain sites. “There are lots of competitors to Cloudflare that are not nearly as law abiding as we have always been,” he said. “The minute that someone isn’t on our network, they’re going to be on someone else’s network….” Prince also rejected any implication that Cloudflare’s position is self-interested. “The right answer from a pure business perspective is just to kick them off,” he said of 8chan. “Of the 2 million-plus Cloudflare customers, they don’t matter, and the pain that they cause is well beyond anything else.”

Keeping 8chan within its network is a “moral obligation”, he said, adding: “We, as well as all tech companies, have an obligation to think about how we solve real problems of real human suffering and death. What happened in El Paso is abhorrent in every possible way, and it’s ugly, and I hate that there’s any association between us and that… For us the question is which is the worse evil? Is the worse evil that we kick the can down the road and don’t take responsibility? Or do we get on the phone with people like you and say we need to own up to the fact that the internet is home to many amazing things and many terrible things and we have an absolute moral obligation to deal with that.”

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