Most people by now have heard of 8Chan – it’s made headlines for being the hot spot for white supremacist terrorists three times this year already.
Soon after, another white nationalist posted a racist anti-immigrant rant before shooting up a synanogue in California.
And now, “allegedly” Patrick Wood Cruscius posted a right-wing anti-immigrant manifesto attacking Hispanics before driving 9 hours to shoot up brown people in El Paso.
Why 8Chan Is Gross
The founder, Fredrick Brennan, created it as an angsty teen struggling with his place in society. He said he was resentful of being in a wheelchair and having a disability.
Since then he’s condemned the site, comparing it to Frankenstein’s monster. He’s also criticised the management, saying “their administration is making it much more monstrous than it has to be.”
The thing is, 8Chan is anonymous and unmodulated. You can generally get away with saying whatever you want, which obviously means it’s a breeding ground for terrorist ideas and general heinousness.
The site was actually taken off Google search for being a hotspot for child pornography, if that puts into perspective how nasty the site is.
It didn’t really make international headlines until the Christchurch attack, where people were horrified to see how users egged Bryant Tarrant on to kill Muslims, how they laughed at the violence, and how he offered to livestream it for them so they could all enjoy it.
The founder, Brennan, said “It really just seems like they think all these shootings are funny, like they really don’t care … and it just seems like they’re just going to keep allowing this to happen over and over.”
Now, Cloudfire, the hardware provider for the site, has pulled out of it’s services because they’ve had enough of it’s dangerous messages.
We just sent notice we are terminating service for 8chan. There comes a time when enough is enough. But this isn’t the end. We need to have a broader conversation about addressing the root causes of hate online. https://t.co/ZsctDpswM5
— Matthew Prince 🌥 (@eastdakota) 5 August 2019
Why Taking Down The Site Matters
Of course, someone is going to criticise the praise for removing 8Chan by saying “but they’ll just find other ways to talk. It’s a bandaid solution.” Like yes, shutting down 8Chan is not going to end white terrorism, but it’s about what this implies to its user base, and to greater society.
The thing about taking down 8Chan is that it spreads a message that this behaviour isn’t tolerable. It denies a space for white terrorist ideologies.
In a time where far-right shooter ideologies are indistinguishable from the hate speech spread by actual government leadership (Trump, I’m looking at you) it’s becoming more and more normal to have these ideas.
View this post on Instagram
The El Paso shooting manifesto spoke about how immigrants are ruining society and bringing crime onto US soil. Sound familiar? We haven’t forgotten when Trump said Mexicans are rapists, or how he referred to POC Congress women’s ethnic countries as crime riddled shit holes. It’s become the norm to spout this hate, and now what these terrorists are saying isn’t even considered radical. Basically, it’s fucked.
Taking down 8Chan is a step in destabilising the idea that these arguments are acceptable in society, and acknowledges that white supremacist terrorists are one of our biggest dangers to society right now. (Note: more right-wing shooters have killed people in America than radical Jihadists since 9/11).
Plus, because it’s a company that’s taken it down, you can’t argue “free speech” or claim censorship. Corporations have probably the most power to mediate the conversations online, and how people organise, because they’re the ones that control sites – these aren’t government institutions.
It’s not going to stop terrorism, but it’s going to make people think twice about what messed up terrorist-shit they’re going to say, and it’s a start to broadening the conversation on how society normalises these fatal ideologies.
Image Sources: GIPHY, @eastdakota, @righthandedleftyartist.