The internet forum 8chan went offline Sunday after San Francisco-based security company Cloudflare announced it would no longer provide services for the site. Shortly after, a company founded in Vancouver, Washington, stepped in to try and get the site back online.
8chan is an online forum popular among white supremacists, neo-Nazis and misogynist groups called incels. The most vitriolic is the /pol/ board, a political forum where users often encourage acts of violence. Writing about 8chan for Bellingcat in April, author Robert Evans said, "the overarching goal of /pol/, held by most of its members, is to radicalize their fellow anons to 'real-life effortposting,' i.e. acts of violence in the physical world."
In the past four months, three people have posted racist, anti-immigrant manifestos to the site before carrying out mass shootings, including the person behind this weekend's shooting in El Paso, Texas.
After Cloudflare dropped 8chan, the site moved to Seattle-based firm Epik and briefly went back online, replaying a nearly identical chain of events from two years ago: In August 2017, Cloudflare stopped providing services to the neo-Nazi website Daily Stormer. At the time, a Vancouver, Washington-based company called BitMitigate stepped in to provide services. Epik has since acquired BitMitigate.
But things are playing out a little differently this time. As of Monday, Epik also found itself in hot water. Epik leases servers from a company called Voxility, which announced they would no longer do business with Epik.
In a public statement, Epik CEO Rob Monster said, "Our services fill the ever growing need for a neutral service provider that will not terminate accounts based on arbitrary reasoning or political pressure."
The Daily Stormer and 8chan websites were both down as of Monday afternoon.