An online message board with a history of use by violent extremists suffered sporadic outages Monday after its cybersecurity provider cut off support for what it called a “cesspool of hate” following mass shootings in Texas and Ohio.
8chan returned an error message after midnight California time, when the security company Cloudflare said it would no longer be provide service. A lack of security support would leave the site open to online attacks that might block access. 8chan appeared to be back online early Monday.
On its Twitter account, operators for 8chan said there might be downtime in the next one or two days as the site seeks a solution.
Police are investigating commentary posted on 8chan that is believed to have been written by the suspect in a shooting Saturday that killed 20 people in El Paso, Texas.
If there is a connection, it would be the third known instance of a shooter posting to the site before going on a rampage following mass shootings at two New Zealand mosques in the spring, and another at a California synagogue.
The suspect in El Paso “appears to have been inspired” by discussions on 8chan, said Cloudflare CEO Matthew Prince in a blog post on his company’s site. He said a suspect in an earlier shooting at a synagogue in Poway, California, also posted a “hate-filled ‘open letter’” on 8chan as well as the mosque attack in Christchurch, New Zealand.
“8chan has repeatedly proven itself to be a cesspool of hate,” wrote Prince. “They have proven themselves to be lawless and that lawlessness has caused multiple tragic deaths.”
Prince acknowledged that little can be done under current rules to silence sites like 8chan.
Two years ago, Cloudflare terminated service to the Daily Stormer, a neo-Nazi and white supremacist site.
The operators of that site found another security provider.
“Today, the Daily Stormer is still available and still disgusting,” Prince wrote. “They have bragged that they have more readers than ever. They are no longer Cloudflare’s problem, but they remain the Internet’s problem.”