Tucows Inc, an internet services company, will no longer register the domain name for 8chan, the extremist forum where a gunman posted a racist screed before he murdered 22 people in El Paso on Saturday.
Tucows is a Pennsylvania corporation that is headquartered in Toronto, Canada. Much like its competitor GoDaddy, Tucows is a designated registrar, a middle-man that resells internet domain names to the public. Tucows has more than 25 million domain names under management, said a spokesperson for Tucows. “We can’t vet every one of them,” she said. “But whenever they come to us, we work very closely with law enforcement.”
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Following the El Paso shooting, the founder of 8chan, Frederick Brennan, called for the site to go dark. “Shut the site down,” Brennan told the New York Times. “It’s not doing the world any good.”
According to the the National Post of Canada, users congregated on 8chan as mass atrocities happened, “cheering [the gunman] on and openly hoping the shooter can beat the previous ‘high score’ -- using a video-game term for a real-life body count.”
The accused El Paso gunman appeared to post a hate-filled manifesto on 8chan minutes before going on his rampage in a suburban Walmart.
Other homicidal sprees were preceded by messages posted to 8chan that the shooters intended to go viral. Those included a white supremacist screed announcing the massacre in March that killed 51 people in two New Zealand mosques and an anti-Semitic rant posted another killer posted in April before shooting up a California synagogue on the last day of Passover.
Cloudflare, which provided 8chan with internet protection, said on Monday it was dropping 8chan as a client, saying the site has “repeatedly proven itself to be a cesspool of hate."
“Cloudflare’s mission is to help build a better Internet,” the San Francisco-based company said in a statement. “At some level firing 8chan as a customer is easy. They are uniquely lawless and that lawlessness has contributed to multiple horrific tragedies. Enough is enough.”
In a video posted on Tuesday to Youtube, 8chan current owner, Jim Watkins, claimed the Walmart shooter had not posted a manifesto to 8chan. As “Taps” played in the background, Watkins also said shutting down 8chan’s website was “sinister behavior” and denounced Cloudflare’s actions as “cowardly and not thought-out.”
Watkins described 8chan as “one of the last independent companies that offer a place you may write down your thoughts free from having to worry about whether they are offensive to one group or another power.”
He told the 1 million users of 8chan that he was “sorry for the inconvenience” for the site going dark, but that “common sense would prevail.”