What Is 8chan, Online Message Board That Has Served As Platform For Extremists Behind Mass Shootings?
Many discussions about the subject of mass shootings have included talk about 8chan, an online message board that several extremist domestic terrorists have used to post and spread their hateful agendas.
The platform, which has been compared to Reddit, was founded in 2013 by programmer Fredrick Brennan, who just this week told The New York Times in an interview that the site should be “shut down” in the wake of the shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio, the latest in a string of massacres that have occurred throughout the United States in recent years. The site allows users to post things anonymously, which makes it more difficult for law enforcement to take action whenever a hateful or threatening message is posted.
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The 21-year-old perpetrator of the El Paso shooting, who shared a manifesto online that echoed views tied to white nationalism, xenophobia and anti-Hispanic sentiment, reportedly posted several threatening messages on 8chan. The shooters behind the Christchurch mosque shootings in New Zealand in March also used 8chan.
“Whenever I hear about a mass shooting, I say, ‘All right, we have to research if there’s an 8chan connection,’” Brennan told the Times.
Brennan has said he created 8chan as a way to provide a “free speech” alternative to 4chan, a more well-known online message board that has many more restrictions on the type of content that can be posted on it.
In recent years, 8chan’s “/pol/” board — which is known for including politically incorrect and otherwise controversial content — has featured blatantly racist and anti-Semitic posts as well as conspiracy theories like QAnon, which many supporters of President Donald Trump believe. Anti-feminist activists who support the so-called GamerGate campaign have also proliferated on 8chan.
Cloudflare, a company that protects several websites like 8chan from cyber-attacks, initially said after the El Paso shooting that it would continue providing services for 8chan but then changed its decision. On Sunday, its chief executive Matthew Prince wrote in a blog post that Cloudflare would stop servicing 8chan because the message board “has repeatedly proven itself to be a cesspool of hate.”
Also notable is the fact that when typing in “8chan” into Google, no link to the website appears on the first page of search results.
The hashtag #8chandown began trending on Twitter after the shooting in El Paso on Saturday.