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Cloudflare Chief Explains Decision to Shut Down 8Chan, Despite Reservations


Ultimately, Mr. Prince said he decided that 8chan was too centrally organized around hate, and more willing to ignore laws against violent incitement in order to avoid moderating its platform. The realization, along with the multiple mass murders that the authorities have connected to 8chan, tipped the scale in favor of a ban.

“If we see a bad thing in the world and we can help get in front of it, we have some obligation to do that,” he said.

Mr. Prince, who announced the removal of 8chan from Cloudflare in a 1,300-word blog post on Sunday night, still worries about setting a bad precedent. He theorized that a repressive Middle Eastern government could cite the 8chan example when asking Cloudflare to remove security protections for an L.G.B.T. group inside its borders, since it might technically be “lawless” to promote homosexuality in that country.

“We have to make sure we’re setting policies where we can push back on those things,” he said.

He added that even if a hacker took advantage of 8chan’s lack of defenses, he did not expect the site to stay offline for long. Many companies now offer security services similar to Cloudflare’s, and it might be possible for 8chan to find another provider in short order. (8chan was down for hours on Monday morning, although its administrator said on Twitter that the site would soon be back up after moving to another security provider, BitMitigate.)

It is undeniably true that the underlying problem of online hate is bigger than one website, and that taking 8chan offline, even permanently, would not stop violent hatred from leaping off the internet and onto America’s streets. There will always be another message board, another hosting provider, another security service willing to give harbor to extremists.

But as he prepared to serve 8chan with an eviction notice, Mr. Prince sounded sure of his choice.

“We’ll see how this turns out,” he said. “I don’t think I’m going to regret this for a second.”

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