The founder of 8chan, an internet messaging board that is a haven for extremist content online, is calling for the site to be shut down in the wake of a mass shooting in El Paso, Texas which left 20 people dead and dozens more injured.
Fredrick Brennan, a software developer who founded the site in 2013 but cut ties with it in December, told the Washington Post on Sunday that the site is a “receptive audience for domestic terrorists.”
“Once again, a terrorist used 8chan to spread his message as he knew people would save it and spread it,” Brennan told the Post. “The board is a receptive audience for domestic terrorists.”
He added that the site’s owners should “do the world a favor and shut it off.”
Brennan’s comments come as authorities say they are investigating an anti-immigrant manifesto which circulated online in the hours before the deadly El Paso shooting. El Paso Police Chief Greg Allen told reporters on Saturday that they are working to determine whether the suspected shooter had penned the racist document.
Police identified the suspect as a 21-year-old white male from Allen, Texas. The manifesto expresses discriminatory views towards Hispanic people and conveys a fear that Hispanic people would take over Texas and turn the state into a “Democrat stronghold.”
A Justice Department official said the case was being treated as a “domestic terrorist” case. Another mass shooting occurred in Dayton, Ohio just hours after the El Paso attack, and left 9 dead and 27 wounded.
Brennan had previously spoken out against 8chan in March in the wake of the deadly shooting in Christchurch, New Zealand which left 51 people dead and 49 others injured. The suspected shooter, a 28-year-old white male, penned a 74-page racist manifesto in the hours leading up to the attack. He has not been formally identified.
“It was very difficult in the days that followed [the Christchurch shooting] to know that I had created that site,” he told the Wall Street Journal in March. “It wouldn’t surprise me if this happens again.”
Brennan on Twitter said racist manifestos are often posted and spread on 8chan because the site utilizes a “receptive, sympathetic audience” that helps proliferate content, and moderation on the site is “lax to non-existent,” allowing hateful content to percolate without consequence.
CloudFlare, on online security service that hosted 8chan on its network, announced on Sunday night it would be terminating its service with 8chan in response to the shootings.
“We just sent notice that we are terminating 8chan as a customer effective at midnight tonight Pacific Time,” Matthew Prince, the co-founder and CEO of CloudFlare, wrote in a blog post on Sunday evening. “The rationale is simple: they have proven themselves to be lawless and that lawlessness has caused multiple tragic deaths.”
The service cited the manifesto posted before the El Paso shooting, along with bigoted content posted to the site which praised the Christchurch shooting and an “open letter” posted to the site by the gunman who opened fire in a California synagogue in April, as reasons to terminate its involvement with the site.
“8chan has repeatedly proven itself to be a cesspool of hate,” Prince wrote.
CloudFlare explained that while terminating its services with 8chan may cause temporary disruption to the site’s operations and may leave it vulnerable to cyber attacks, the site may still be able to remain online using a competitor’s services.
“While removing 8chan from our network takes heat off of us, it does nothing to address why hateful sites fester online.”
Brennan expressed support for the move on Twitter and thanked CloudFare for taking action against 8chan.
“Finally this nightmare might have an end,” he wrote.