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8chan goes dark after hardware provider discontinues service (theverge.com)
910 points by gregmac 48 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 1566 comments

I've generally been on the free speech side of this debate, as some of my previous comments on HN will show.

With 8chan, I legitimately don't know what my opinion is. I've read it before, and I spent a few hours reading it this weekend, and it's beyond clear to me that it absolutely had the potential to radicalize shooters and terrorists. I'm not referring to the simple use of racial or ethnic slurs -- of course this was extremely common there, but I don't think this is the part of the site that encouraged actual violence. Rather, among the many ideological threads that were more or less constantly ongoing on 8chan, one of them just straight-up encouraged mass shootings. "The fire rises" is a common phrase I saw there celebrating the frequency of shootings. For instance, here's a quote I saw this weekend (I screenshotted a bunch of stuff like this in anticipation of the site going down):

"holy fucking shit, a third mass shooting toda [referencing an incident near Douglas Park in Chicago], white guy shot 7 people, no one dead yet but the meter is still running!!! shooter still active!!!

its absolutely fucking happening !!! the FIRE RISES!!!"

This was attached to a picture of Trump with the text "it's happening" superimposed.

While 8chan overall was absolutely all over the place, this thread of support for shootings and terrorism was seemingly always present in the background.

I've lost good friends to 4chan/8chan. They were obsessed. At first it was cat pictures and memes, but it went way downhill from there. I've watched those sites cause the transition from normal, interesting, reasonable, open minded, intelligent, happy human beings, to horrible inexcusable pieces of shit who I never want to have anything to do with ever again.

It's not just that they inspire a few shooters and mass murders. They inspire a hell of a lot of other once-reasonable people to be deeply and irredeemably terrible in many other ways.

I would not lump 4chan into this discussion. I'll concede that some boards on the site are more polemical than others and promote alt-right ideologies without a doubt, but there are many other interesting boards and people on 4chan that are not captured by the broad strokes you're outlining. I know people that browse /fit/, /lit/, /mu/ and /out/ just to name some boards that are perfectly reasonable individuals that don't lionize shooters or hold other alienated views.

That's a concern leveled elsewhere in this thread: that you go to 4chan to discuss music or retro video games, and are one click away from an absolute hive of poisonous extremists.

The "bad" boards frequently leak, and you do see highly political or racist posts from time-to-time on the regular boards. A sign that the community is functioning properly is regulars on /out/, /lit/, etc. calling out (read mocking) ethno-nationalist threads, or race-baiting for what they are.

> unfortunately no one has the answer.

The answer is structuring society, socialization, and culture in a way that doesn't disenfranchise people or leave them feeling helpless enough to turn to extremism, hate, and violence.

But that requires empathy and effort, things often in short supply.

People only go down the dark paths that lead to 8chan et al when the avenues to belonging they were presented with by their parents and by default failed them.

On the other hand, the extremists are one click away from the people who will call them out on their bs. I'm not sure if that's worse or better than deplatforming them only to have they retreat to even more extremist echo-chambers.

It's good. Know thine enemy, and keep them close.

Just to add on my own experiences, Since starting to collect toys and also make my own, I've been entirely unable to find a better community for both of these than /toy/. Every other community is brimming with an endless barrage of superhero stuff and zero interest in niche/art toy lines. /pol/-esque posting is always mocked, reported, and subsequently purged by janitors there.

I'm most familiar with /a/ and can tell you there's a broad distaste for /pol/ on /a/.

>promote alt-right ideologies

Why are invoking alt-right? One of the two shooters was radically left, and he posted his threats on Twitter.

Because that's the radicalized ideology that pops up most often on 4chan. If you know of a board with a contingent of alt-left/identity-politics I would be interested to know. As you said yourself, the case of the second shooter seems to be related to Twitter, not the chans.

> If you know of a board with a contingent of alt-left/identity-politics

This bubble is so large it no longer appears to be a bubble.

He had "leftist" in his bio so that makes him a "radical left".

Is that what passes as reasoned thinking these days?

No. Come on, are we gonna do it like this? Actually take a look at this guy.

I call him radical because he actually was. He posted overt, politically charged threats on Twitter, for example: "I want socialism, and i’ll not wait for the idiots to finally come round to understanding."

There are good boards on 8ch too. Probably more, considering anyone can make a board.

Can we please stop using the "alt-right" euphemism for racist, backwards, literal Nazis?

Edit: seems we have some Nazi-sympathizer downvoters on HN.

Go figure.

Literal Nazis are German White Nationalist Socialists. That's not what the alt-right is. The alt-right is a blanket term used to describe anyone right of Bill Clinton who is currently not a media darling.

Fascists or Ethno-Centrists are both better terms, and cover the ideologies that most people attribute to the alt right.

Just look at the absurdity of Qanon. This troll gone long [1] has affected real people and real relationships [2].

[1] https://www.nbcnews.com/tech/tech-news/how-three-conspiracy-...

[2] https://www.esquire.com/news-politics/a22664244/qanon-boyfri...

I recently passed several qanon billboards along major interstate freeway junctions while traveling in the southern USA.

Someone had scrawled QAnon garbage on a disused billboard in the back streets of Reading, UK last I saw it. This vomitous nonsense has global reach.

You could say the exact same thing about Twitter, Facebook, Reddit or any other form of social media. People get absorbed in ideas all the time, and those platforms just multiply the intensity.

Personally, Twitter has been a much bigger source of anger, shock and hate than 4chan ever was. Some of the shit I've seen on Twitter made it unbearable to go on my day and yet on 4chan, on boards like /vg/, /ck/, /g/, /wg/ it was mostly just shitposts and once in a while you would see a good post.

All I can do is shrug.. People with no clue will always just yell.

>You could say the exact same thing about Twitter, Facebook, Reddit or any other form of social media. People get absorbed in ideas all the time, and those platforms just multiply the intensity. Personally, Twitter has been a much bigger source of anger, shock and hate than 4chan ever was.

Do you ever see people openly hoping for shootings, cheering them on, and then posting manifestos there (referencing not only the ideology they learned from the site, but even the in-jokes of the people cheering for it on the site) before doing their own shootings? And then after that, do those sites regularly completely refuse the concept of doing anything to try to prevent repeats?

I'm sure that other sites have been guilty of bits and pieces of that, but the combination makes 8chan on another level than any of those.

I'm in the same boat as DonHopkins. I've seen people who used to be friends get sucked into far alt-right stuff through 8chan specifically. Maybe it happens with Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit, but I haven't seen it and haven't seen many people here bring up any experiences like that.

> Do you ever see people openly hoping for shootings, cheering them on, and then posting manifestos on Twitter?

Yes I have many times. Just this weekend alone, the Ohio shooter tweeted "Kill every fascist", retweeted several violent Antifa posts. His Twitter profile read “he/him / anime fan / metalhead / leftist / i’m going to hell and i’m not coming back.” His top pinned tweet said “Millennials have a message for the Joe Biden generation: hurry up and die.” In May, he tweeted, “You’ll never be rid of me. I’ll haunt your life like a fucking vengeful spirit.” He added, “My Horoscope Just Reads ‘Doom.'” He shared posts about “concentration camps” at the border and wrote, “Cut the fences down. Slice ICE tires. Throw bolt cutters over the fences.” He retweeted a post from another person about stealing from “right wingers” at a Trump rally. One of his tweets referred to white people. “Imagine if we did the thing you liked, but in a way that totally ruins what you liked about it! Wouldn’t that be fun? Ha ha Also, of course they’re all white people, of course they are,” he wrote.

From another comment:

> "Dayton shooter Was The Lead Singer Of A "Pornogrind" Metal Band - The gunman, identified as 24 year-old (wont be named), was a member of Menstrual Munchies, a three-man band that performed regularly on the Midwest death metal scene. All the Dark Metal Bands that were friends with the shooter are distancing themselves extremely fast. All their music supports antifascists (aka antifa) and their genre of music is defined by its explicit subject matter and themes of gore and violence, specifically sexual violence and necrophilia."

> "Betts was also in a “Pornogrind” Band that, according to Vice News, “released songs about raping and killing women.” Vice called it the “extreme metal music scene.” The bands he performed in sometimes were called Menstrual Munchies and Putrid Liquid, and the songs contained vile names like “6 Ways of Female Butchery” and “Preeteen Daughter Pu$$y Slaughter,” Vice reported."

> Betts’ Twitter profile read, “he/him / anime fan / metalhead / leftist / i’m going to hell and i’m not coming back.” One tweet on his page read, “Off to Midnight Mass. At least the songs are good. #athiestsonchristmas.” The page handle? I am the spookster. On one selfie, he included the hashtags, “#selfie4satan #HailSatan @SatanTweeting.” On the date of Republican Sen. John McCain’s death, he wrote, “F*ck John McCain.” He also liked tweets referencing the El Paso mass shooting in the hours before Dayton. The Twitter page contains multiple selfies of Betts.

Archive of the tweets:

http://archive.is/https://twitter.com/iamthespookster https://heavy.com/news/2019/08/connor-betts/ https://pbs.twimg.com/media/EBKBsgSUIAALHBg?format=jpg&name=... https://pbs.twimg.com/media/EBKBsgsU0AAiB4O?format=jpg&name=... http://archive.is/7niS2

>All the Dark Metal Bands that were friends with the shooter are distancing themselves extremely fast.

If the groups of these other shooters had instead responded by distributing propaganda that literally canonized the shooters like saints and praised future shooters in order to encourage more, then it might be comparable. (You don't have to look far at all on 8chan for this type of thing.) I'm probably only in the tamest of lefty circles, but I've never seen anything remotely like that. I don't see these shootings celebrated; it seems like a much harder argument to make that they're encouraged in lefty places than the argument that 8chan encourages violence.

Sorry that's not the argument I was trying to make. The argument I was trying to make is that Twitter, FB groups etc all have these type of violent posts but they are not being held liable (most likely because they are way too big and maybe also because they are US based companies). Reddit has subreddits which actively call for assassination of political figures. I have reported them a few times but the posts stay on because maybe the mods aren't getting paid to do their jobs on reddit unlike the other big companies.

The 'chans seem almost like a leaderless cult. I've also seen people get completely sucked into them in this really honestly creepy way. I suppose it's like a subculture but minus virtually everything positive like socializing with real human beings and having real experiences.

As someone who unashamedly frequents 4chan it saddens me to see this sort of view. I'm neither for or against 8chan's banning but I think there's a lot of misunderstanding of the *chan cultures.

The problem with most of the internet is that there are so many psychological incentives to repress unpopular opinions and to fit in with the hive mind. Reddit is the pinnacle of that where your opinion is literally shown or hidden based on its popularity. Now this is good for lazy content consumption since most of the time the popular content is what you want to see. But it's also very dangerous. Very very dangerous. Not only because it discourages changes in thinking but also because malicious entities can literally manipulate what you're thinking.

So yes, I may not always like what I read on 4chan. It may act as a platform for mentally ill people. But a lot of greatness also comes from it too. I mean it's no coincidence that a disproportionate amount of internet memes originate there. But a lot of thoughtful discourse also occurs there, often inciting interesting arguments where elsewhere on the internet it'd be buried by downvotes or deleted by moderators.

The antidote to social media ad populum isn't social media anarchy. They're both bad, but they're not equally bad.

It's like asking if you'd rather eat your own poop or a handful of one inch nails. As unpalatable as the former certainly is, the latter is unambiguously worse.

I never claimed it was a solution. I just said it helps you to avoid it. If it were the solution I wouldn't be on Hacker News right now.

Although I strongly disagree regarding 4chan being unambiguously worse. Maybe if you're talking about just /b/ and /pol/ I'd agree but the site is so much more than that.

For instance, the game development community there much more human and helpful than most other communities I've participated in. But there's a hundreds of other micro communities that are really great if you know where to find them.

There are tons of non-gamified and non-surveillance-capitalist forums out there about all kinds of topics. I realize not everything and everyone on the chans is toxic, but there is quite a lot of toxic presence there.

I think the chans were cool and interesting back in the early-mid 2000s but since then they've been taken over by not-actually-ironic trolls, political propagandists and astroturfers, and other nasties. Since the forums are anonymous there's no real way to police it or even tell who you're talking to or whether they're a "real person" or a sock puppet of some kind.

I distinctly remember what to me felt like the chans' shark-jumping moment: Ebola Chan.


When that appeared along with a thread full of seemingly not actually ironic comments like "maybe Ebola will de-populate Africa," I felt that the chans were done.

There's plenty of actual racism around, which of course I don't like, but most of this is limited to /b/ and /pol/ which are not representative of the entire site. They just happen to get in the spotlight more because of how controversial they can be.

A lot of people on 4chan view these boards as a sort of filter to scare away outsiders. The majority of the site isn't nearly that edgy and largely discuss the various relevant topics for each respective board.

What's tragic is that they convince cat lovers to post cat pictures on "Caturday", when they should be posting them every day! That needlessly reduces their positive contribution to society to just 14.28% efficiency.

There are definitely leaders on the chans. The site operators know who log in the most, post the most, and what they post. This sort of info is inherent to running a message board. Moot was upfront about this when he ran 4chan, and he cooperated with law enforcement when they came looking for specific people.

The idea that these movements are leaderless collectives is part of their propaganda and should not be passed on without skepticism.

You can say the same thing about video games. We had a moral panic over those, too.

What video games can you name that promote White Supremacy like 8chan does?

Maybe those games where you control a Western European country in the middle ages and have to defend your civilization against religious, cultural and ethnic rivals?

Well there's always the 1971 HP 2100 minicomputer version of Oregon Trail:


>Prior to the start of Rawitsch's history unit, Heinemann and Dillenberger let some students at their school play it to test; the students were enthusiastic about the game, staying late at school to play. The other teachers were not as interested, but did recommend changes to the game, particularly removing negative depictions of Native Americans as they were based more on Western movies and television than history, and could be problematic towards the several students with Native American ancestry at the schools.

But they partially addressed that in the 1974 MECC version:


>He also added in more positive depictions of Native Americans, as his research indicated that many settlers received assistance from them along the trail. He placed The Oregon Trail into the organization's time-sharing network in 1975, where it could be accessed by schools across Minnesota.

Now the developer, Don Rawitsch, would like to create a version of the game from the Native American perspective.


>But developers still field questions about the game’s stereotypical portrayal of Native Americans. During a recent gaming conference, Don Rawitsch, one of three aspiring teachers who developed The Oregon Trail, said he has dreams of reimagining the game with a Native American perspective.

>“If I were to create something like Oregon Trail today, I would create the Native American version,” he said during a panel discussion at the Game Developers Conference in March. “What would it be like on the other side of the wall, so to speak?”

But even the cowboys-and-indians-movie 1971 version of Oregon Trail was a far cry from 8chan.

Speaking of cowboys-and-indians, Custer's Revenge is a videogame that is closer to the way 8chan views the world.

GTA would fall into the league. Just a different team.

Of course no sane person takes it literally.

Sadly that leaves quite some, who do take it literally.

It's the same phenomenon as mold. Everything that doesn't like toxicity flees, leaving only those who get trapped and turn into the toxic mold.

You are arguing that we should shut the internet down.

To paraphrase GP: everything on the web is one click away.

> once-reasonable people to be deeply and irredeemably terrible in many other ways

Like otaku. Or furries. Can't imagine anything more terribly dangerous than furry otaku spreading GNU Manifesto and forcing you to install Gentoo. Awful place!

I used to go on 4chan as a teenager. It was always "edgy" but only recently (since roughly around gamergate and Elliot Rodger, which is also when 8chan started) has it begun to seriously drift to the far-right. White nationalists saw that as an opportunity to radicalize teenagers to their cause and it's still ongoing.

There is a whole cottage industry of people attempting to radicalize jaded white teens and "skeptics" to turn them from ideological libertarians or politically unaffiliated into hateful, "alt-right" fascists. One of them was Steve Bannon [0].

[0] https://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/talkingtech/2017/07/18/s...

Not just a cottage industry -- they actually have a big building and huge quantities of money and workers:


>55 Savushkina Street, St Petersburg, said to be the headquarters of Russia’s ‘troll army’.

It would be naive to assume that the only people who want to push America to fascism are from other countries. There are a lot of people in the US that support that too.

There's a good reason they call him Moscow Mitch.

I'm wondering since other commenters wrote that even twitter is filled with white nationalists. I don't think you can blame some random internet platform for the world's problems. It's just that they make the problems far more visible because they are echo chambers that focus around one particular ideology.

So what exactly causes white nationalism to be rising everywhere, not just on 8chan?

I can't find anything in your comment that alludes to what being a terrible horrible utter piece of shit consists of. Do you mind elaborating?

Note that this is a sincere question, since I haven't had exposure to 4chan since before the Internet went mainstream, and even then it was fairly limited. I've heard horrible things about what it's become since, but I don't know much about it.

That's the problem with leftists in censorship discussions - they fundamentally don't believe in free will. It's not the website that shot people. It wasn't Trump. It was the individual. Believing otherwise is highly problematic as it leads to authoritarianism.

Would you please stop taking HN threads further into ideological flamewar? That's not the intended use of this site.


You're just trading one absolutism for another. It's all societies fault! No, it's all on the individual!!

No nuance, no grey area. The leftists do have a point and reality is somewhere in the middle.

The shooter acted of his own free will. Yes, there were factors that contributed to his actions, but the responsibility is squarely on his shoulders. There's room for nuance, but unless he was forced to do something against his will, it's on him.

Culture matters. Environment matters. Yes he chose to commit the crime but if the environment promotes this kind of thinking/behavior then the environment needs change as well.

If he were Muslim or dark skinned we'd be losing our shit but because he's a white Christian male he's a lone wolf and it's solely his responsibility. Excuse me but I find that to be utter horsecrap.

I'm interested in how that can be the case. Do you mind sharing some more details of how normal people can go off the deep end through their experiences on the sites?

I posted this above, but it is a direct response to your question as well: Just look at the absurdity of Qanon. This troll gone long [1] has affected real people and real relationships [2].

[1] https://www.nbcnews.com/tech/tech-news/how-three-conspiracy-...

[2] https://www.esquire.com/news-politics/a22664244/qanon-boyfri...

There's an extremely long tail of terribly damaged human beings and relationships, once you get past all the mass murderers and white supremacists that 8chan and 4chan have inspired.

I'm sure your former friends feel the exact same way about you.

> it's beyond clear to me that it absolutely had the potential to radicalize shooters and terrorists

I mean, it literally radicalized white supremacist terrorists. There's no "had the potential" anymore, it's a fact.

It also sounds like it held plenty of child porn, so I don't understand why it took until now for anyone to do anything about the site.

CP gets knocked off the board fast. 4chan and 8chan know the line, though it is in a weird place (it probably should be on the other side of "fomenting white supremacy")

> 4chan and 8chan know the line, though it is in a weird place

"Things we legally cannot host" is exactly where one would expect them to draw the line. Whether or not you agree with that position is another matter.

The mods remove those posts as quickly as they can. It's impossible to prevent it when you're hosting a board that allows anonymous image uploads. No pre-approval process could keep up with the amount of content posted on a popular board, especially when the site is being run on donations.

Sure, but I would be worried about taking blame if 9/10 white supremacist terrorists turned out to be active on my forum.

Someone tell Facebook and Twitter

Do posters get banned? If it's not accepted on the board then why does it keep getting posted, and posted sufficiently often that many people are claiming 8chan has CP?

"Accounts" aren't banned (because there aren't accounts required to post), but IP bans are very common.

People are claiming that 8ch has CP in order to discredit it. The claims aren't true and the site has been removing such content for a long time now.

They remove it because people keep posting it. Just because its existence is transient, doesn't mean it isn't there

There's nothing stopping the same thing happening to HN, except the people that do it have no interest in doing so (and images don't auto-display, I guess).

They're all behind variable IP VPNs. Permanently getting rid of them is nearly impossible.

8chan deliberately set itself up such that it's impossible to do anything beyond an IP ban. This was a conscious choice they made, and that doesn't mean they get a pass on failure to enforce rules as a result.

How about Bitcoin? Does it get a pass for distributing CP? (Since IIRC there's some embedded in the blockchain)

How would you embed CP in the Bitcoin blockchain?

By making a transaction (or series of transactions) that happen to have a binary representation (or destination address, or comment, or...) that decodes to CP - the same way that you'd store any other arbitrary data there.

The 8ch.net/delicious/ board routinely had extremely realistic animated images and video of prepubescent girls having sex with older men. The images were reported to mods who left them up.

That's the sort of thing that starts to hit some really grey areas, and also starts to illuminate some of the differences in the justifications for banning CP. If you're against CP because it means the exploitation of children, animated images of children that do not exist should be fine - but if you're against it due to it being disgusting or normalizing the abuse of real children it's not. However, I believe that the Supreme Court has thus far held that drawings fall under the 1st Amendment, as (IMO) they most certainly should.

There is an important shade of grey between "clearly artificial image" and "real image", where "artificial but real-looking image" sits. It has the same normalizing effect as a real image.

Otherwise there's no reason to oppose real images, since the harm is done before the image is ever seen.

> Otherwise there's no reason to oppose real images, since the harm is done before the image is ever seen.

We ban specifically real images for two general reasons - one is that allowing them encourages the production of more such images, necessitating additional abuse, and the second is that for the children involved, knowing that other people are looking at those images is a huge violation.

Neither of those applies for "artificial but real-looking" images.

Animated images and videos of prepubescent girls having sex may be distasteful, but under US law it's not considered child pornography.

Fun fact, there are places in the Western world where it is considered illegal to the same degree as photographs of children being abused. And ditto for textual descriptions of this fictionally happening. Scandinavia, for instance. Which is admittedly not famous for its uncompromising approach to freedom of expression.

There are also places where sexual content of adult women is illegal if they look young.

Or at least they're no more true than claiming Imgur and the like have CP. (Dropbox and Google Drive almost certainly do, thanks to encryption)

IP Permaban and allegedly details forwarded to law enforcement. Never ever heard of any actual consequences though, and "everyone" hits 8chan / 4chan through a VPN anyway.

*Formenting \w+ supremacy

I think "\w+" is regex for "one or more non-specified words," so they're nitpicking that it should be "* supremacy" instead of "white supremacy", in a weirdly obtuse and technical way.

Aside from the misspelling, it was because I didn't want to look up how to escape italics.

You are correcting someone who used the word correctly. You have also misspelled "fomenting".


Are you of the belief that hatred and radicalization doesn’t exist in environments that lack free speech?

Lot’s of places on this planet have hyper radicalized portions of their populations that commit aggregious acts of violence, and they lack free speech.

Yet free speech is being used as the red herring to blame.

Unequivocally, your assessment of these forums causing the radicalization is wrong. Plain wrong. These people exist in any environment, they go into the shadows, they continue to lash out, and removing and restricting rights for every person DOES NOT STOP THIS BEHAVIOR.

This isn't a free speech issue. We have free speech in most parts of our country without radicalization. This is an issue of a specific environment that actively celebrates hatred and awful behavior. "Free Speech" is a red herring. Just because it's legal to say this stuff doesn't make it okay to say it, and it's society's job to stamp out this kind of thing.

Something relevant here is that I believe that there is a significant amount of illegal speech on 8chan (or also twitter for that matter). Moving the discourse over to better enforcing current laws looks like an underestimated approach.

Clearly it is not illegal speech.

Regardless of that, is your solution to a decades old problem that pre dated the internet is to ban online forums that don’t tow approved narratives?

I think you will be incredibly disappointed in the results of your solution.

There is illegal speech on many platforms. Twitter is used for doxing for example.

I do not like companies being the arbiters of good, but in this case (as far as CF is concerned [1]) I believe they did no wrong.

They clearly state that they should not be in the business of policing legal content they host, but also work hard to make sure they are not hosting illegal content. This way is better than a twitter-like approach where you only pay attention to high profile situations.

(In many senses twitter is doing a good job, but in other senses they (and their employees) have a strong political bias that bubbles up to how they enforce policies)

[1] https://new.blog.cloudflare.com/terminating-service-for-8cha...

Chicken and egg. Do these forums create the behavior or just create the outlet?

I think we have a fundamental issue with men and how they are treated from a young age in our society, and it has nothing to do with the chans.

You can look at the symptoms or look at the underlying pathology that creates the symptoms.

> removing and restricting rights for every person DOES NOT STOP THIS BEHAVIOR.

DUI laws don't stop DUI related accidents, but having and enforcing DUI laws decrease DUI related accidents. And while you can't prevent anything 100% of the time, you can actively work toward reducing the chances of something bad happening.

That is the equivalence of saying murder laws prevent or reduce murder, when here we are discussing mass murder events.

There is an underlying issue in our society that creates this lashing out behavior, and hiding it under the precept of preventing radicalization instead of engaging it will not stop the behavior.

We are all adults here. I have children, as many of you do. When your children exhibit a bad behavior, do you ban it or engage it and fix it?

I can tell my children to stop doing something until I’m blue in the face. I can BAN the action from my home, but until I engage with them it’s meaningless and only serves to make me feel good while they continue said things behind my back.

My point is, let’s look at the deeper issues instead of the emotional knee jerk tripe of ban guns, ban speech, blame racism. We have a problem that requires more rational behavior and level heads.

Now apply that logic to the war on drugs. Tell us how the war on drugs has actually helped society and how similarly banning 'hate speech' will result in a net decrease in the damage these ideologies cause.

And I'm sure permanently banning everyone who ever gets a DUI from driving would also decrease DUIs, but there's an important line to draw with how we enforce those.

We should abolish DUI Laws,

If our ultimate goals are to reduce driver impairment and maximize highway safety, we should be punishing reckless driving. It shouldn't matter if it's caused by alcohol, sleep deprivation, prescription medication, text messaging, or road rage. If lawmakers want to stick it to dangerous drivers who threaten everyone else on the road, they can dial up the civil and criminal liability for reckless driving, especially in cases that result in injury or property damage.

Doing away with the specific charge of drunk driving sounds radical at first blush, but it would put the focus back on impairment, where it belongs. It might repair some of the civil-liberties damage done by the invasive powers the government says it needs to catch and convict drunk drivers. If the offense were reckless driving rather than drunk driving, for example, repeated swerving over the median line would be enough to justify the charge. There would be no need for a cop to jam a needle in your arm alongside a busy highway.


They may already exist, but that doesn't mean we should amplify their voices and give them the ability to recruit more to their cause and ideology.

Now, that's not to say disruptions of communication systems (e.g. censorship) is the right answer. But existence doesn't mean we shrug our shoulders and do nothing. At the very least you can stop encouraging and normalizing them.

Don't shout please.

Nasty people do exist in any environment, but in just the same way that network effects can enormously magnify things like charitable fundraising or the production of cat memes, they can also amplify the production of terrorism or other undesirable activities. Damaging social infrastructure which allows that is an effective way to impede recruitment and organization.

Ban free association then if you are worried about the wrong ideas being propogated to people. Build the police state and massive bureacracy that can enforce this at that the detriment to us all, or start trying to engage with these people and solve the fundamental problem.

If you think 8chan and 4chan haven't made it uniquely easy for groups like this to spread their message, you're being deliberately naïve. It's not about eradicating the behavior entirely, because yes, that's not truly possible. It's about making it more difficult for people to be recruited and radicalized. Just because you have the right to not go to jail for being racist doesn't mean you have the right to spread those views anywhere and everywhere, and when it has a proven link to encouraging violent behavior it crosses the line IMO.

If it was an ISIS board we wouldn't even be having this conversation, it would already be offline.

It is funny that you say that since 8chan actually had an ISIS-themed board.

I doubt the CP part is accurate, the government could take the site down in that case (unless they were intentionally leaving it up as a honeypot).

I'm afraid that part is largely accurate. While 8ch administrators and global moderators did respond to reports of CP hosted on their site, they handled these reports on a largely reactive basis -- the anonymous-imageboard model used by the site made it impossible to block individual posters in any effective fashion, and I don't believe the site had any way to block specific files from being reposted.

> they handled these reports on a largely reactive basis

I don't see anything wrong with that considering the limited and volunteer-based resources they have. Youtube-style content ID pre-censoring built into everything shouldn't be a goal we're striving for.

> I'm afraid that part is largely accurate.

So it ran as a honeypot? I understand that 8chan wasn't hosted anonymously, the owners are known. If they provided a safe haven to child pornography, I assume law enforcement would put an end to that very quickly, especially with obvious and easy ways to apprehend the owners. They've been very active and successful in bringing down hidden services, it's not plausible that they looked the other way for a clearnet site.

> So it ran as a honeypot?

I don't think so. What seems more likely to me is that one or more of the following is the case:

1) The "fast-flux" nature of imageboards makes it difficult for law enforcement to effectively respond to illegal content hosted on them.

2) Deleting content upon reports places board administrators technically within the boundaries of the law.

3) The arm's-length separation between the owners of 8ch, the users who operate boards on the site, and the users who post content on the site allows the owners to claim a lack of responsibility for that content.

In that case, we're talking about something different though. Saying "they have CP" to mean "there is CP posted which then gets speedily removed by mods before LE can act on it" implies that AWS, Google, FB, Youtube etc also host child pornography. Certainly it will be uploaded and they will remove it.

Only when the platform embraces it does that statement make sense, which apparently 8chan did not if I understand you correctly.

Exactly how are they at fault for responding to the issue in the only way the site design can allow? Do you also blame Twitter for only banning people after they've posted something deemed to be breaking the rules? or that it takes 5 minutes to make a new account?

Unless you aren't attempting to imply anything about them being at fault. Although, as long as they are making that good faith effort to take down CP, they can't be taken down by the US govt at least.

The government sure got Backpage down quick and thoroughly.

It only took a decade for the government to get Backpage shut down...


> I mean, it literally radicalized white supremacist terrorists. There's no "had the potential" anymore, it's a fact.

Other than the fact that 8chan had things on it that you didn’t like, where is the evidence to support this claim? How do we know that it was a website that was responsible for the views of its userbase, as opposed to any other media they accessed? How do we know that 8chan specifically was the factor that caused the outcome?

I'm not really that well informed of 8chan, but bringing it down, while practical, doesn't seem like the ideal solution. Isn't it just like covering your eyes and pretending the problem isn't there? The problem doesn't sound like it's 8chan, but rather these people and their ideologies. If 8chan was brought down, they'll just find another hub to congregate, but now we don't know where to reach them to talk.

I thought the idea expressed by NearlyFreeSpeech.net in the following link was nice:


I don't really know anything about 8chan but my limited experience watching videos on YouTube leads me to believe that there are millions of people being radicalized through technology. Young, angry, possibly under-educated people can easily fall down into a rabbit hole of hate like never before.

It's definitely an issue worldwide regardless of race, religion or gender and unfortunately no one has the answer. I don't know if 8chan going down really helps stop radicalization but I don't think it hurts. I also don't think it's an affront to free speech if a hosting provider stops doing business with them. If the US government started arresting posters on 8chan that's most definitely a concern but losing your Cloudflare service or hosting is not breaking any first amendment rights.

> Isn't it just like covering your eyes and pretending the problem isn't there?

Not necessarily - more like taking the megaphone away. You're right that some/many will find a hub to congregate in, but if it's discoverable by the current 8chan users, there's no reason to think it won't be discoverable by media outlets/journalists either.

Like most things, obfuscation/suppression isn't going to solve the issue, but by providing spaces that allow for discussions, the views can be legitimised in the eyes of people who otherwise may not believe them. I'm for the most part against suppression of speech or views, but I do believe there is a line, and to me 4/8chan can (and do) regularly cross this line.

The "megaphone" was simply a ranking of the most popular boards on the front page. There was no promotion of a particular community, it fell on the user to see a board description and think "Oh, I might find interesting content there".

So the crime is mostly in allowing individuals to connect with other individuals interested in a particular topic.

In that case, isn't Google a far more reaching megaphone? One can find far more vicious communities through Google. I remember browsing through racist forums as a kid because a friend had found it on Google (presumably because he looked for it). The community in there certainly matched the worst 8chan boards in their belief and conviction in hateful ideals.

The only difference is 8chan is a neutral rank by popularity, while Google also filters by a user-supplied search string. The same type of communities can be found through both sites.

> The "megaphone" was simply a ranking of the most popular boards on the front page.

No, the megaphone was the site facilitating the discussion, not the ranking. In fact, by anonymising the discussion, they make it even more difficult to infer whether something is "groupthink" or just a lone spammer.

>In that case, isn't Google a far more reaching megaphone?

This is textbook whataboutism, but yes it is. That doesn't change the discussion in any way other than to attempt to muddy the discussion.

> . I remember browsing through racist forums as a kid because a friend

The internet has changed hugely in the last few years, and comparing what was on Google 10+ years ago doesn't compare to the discussions that are happening in other places today.

Let me elaborate on why this argument isn't simply "whataboutism":

Nobody would call for Google to be shut down for the "evil" content they mirror and link to. We all have an implicit understanding that Google is simply a tool, a neutral platform to connect people to websites.

In fact, we believe the exact contrary. For us well educated folks, it's preventing access to Google on the basis of its content that is seen as a backward, deeply offensive move (China, Iran).

We look at the purpose and nature of the platform itself when we judge Google. Well, the purpose of 8chan has never been to promote hate, but instead to provide an open alternative to 4chan, where everyone is welcome to open a board about any topic[1].

The reason why 8chan is ridden by "evil" content has more to do with the heavily controlled state of the giant internet networks, than the nature of 8chan in itself. Nothing about 8chan caters to hateful communities in particular. It's simply one of the few open social networks on the web, which naturally attracts the people rejected from mainstream social networks first. Were it to be more popular, the ratio of "evil" to "decent" communities would trend towards the ratio found in other social networks.

So why do we call for it to be shut down, when its only real fault is to be too small? If you were the user of an 8chan community about cooking cupcakes (or furries, or BDSM), you certainly wouldn't want 8chan to be shut down just because some people are using the site differently.


Now I don't disagree with the reality that intellectually vulnerable people can be influenced by hateful communities in sites like 8chan, and that this is a problem to solve.

But in my opinion, the solution is to go in the total opposite direction of what you propose. The urge to seek out and enter fringe communities is healthy, and at least a necessary step in one's intellectual development. People will from time to time look to escape out of controlled environments, into the bigger space of possibilities. This won't change for as long as we keep teaching kids that freedom is good.

The problem is that, as conventional social networks get more and more controlled, and havens of diversity suppressed (Tumblr, ...), the only remaining places of freedom are those where all the "evil" has been funneled in. That's how people wanting to escape oppression or simply discover new possibilities, get shoved in places where "evil" looks like the norm.

Therefore, the solution is not to shut down one of the last places of diversity on the internet, Instead, we should try to make diversity and openness of thought as widespread as possible, so that "evil" doesn't seem like the only option to a lost, vulnerable individual.

[1]: the Al-Jazeera documentary about its founder is pretty nice even if skewed: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=REnlB3631Nw

8chan never got brought down. They just got dumped by their ISP and CDN. They are free to start their own CDN and ISP to host their content. And if they cannot find a private business willing to peer with them, they are free to offer alternative access methods (dialup?). They can even go set up a booth downtown and hand out flyers with access numbers.

No free speech rights were trampled on, and no censorship took place.

I think no free speech right was trampled because it wasn't the government that acted, not because the reasons you stated. I mean, going by your logic, it's impossible to trample the free speech of someone unless you make it physically impossible for them to express anything ever again.

I have zero qualms about private businesses or private citizens stopping nazis from shouting their hate to the world. Nazis are free to shout as much as they want, and I'm free to tell them to shut the fuck up.

Yeah. We both agree. I thought you were arguing with me about something, but I guess not.

Hey, if you want to know the definition of censorship, it is right here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Censorship

"Censorship is the suppression of speech, public communication, or other information, on the basis that such material is considered objectionable, harmful, sensitive, or "inconvenient". Censorship can be conducted by a government,[5] private institutions, and corporations."

This is the wikipedia definition of censorship, so that makes your definition wrong.

Yes, but GP was specifically stating that no rights afforded by the United States government were trampled on in this case. This is, no doubt, censorship, but some questions are:

- did censoring 8chan significantly limit any sort of harmful behavior?

- is censoring 8chan "right"?

- does this merely hide the problem, preventing an open discussion?

- should CloudFlare, an entity with massive control of Internet infrastructure, really be acting as a moral arbiter? Or do we expect some kind of neutrality from them? Do our expectations matter?

Would you say the same thing if Cloudflare and several ISPs all unilaterally decided to stop hosting democratic party websites?

The line isn't as clear when you generalize the action.

That's clearly against the spirit of free speech. At that point, what's stopping the government from relying on corporations to perform censorship for them in exchange for say, tax benefits and just going off of this plausible deniability of "oh, but we the government didn't do it! Go blame that corporation!". I suspect if water and electricity services weren't public utilities, you'd argue that they too can take away service from whoever they want simply because of their unrelated views. I'm guessing you also think it's okay when banks and transaction processors can interfere in the unrelated business of their clients, relying on their large market share to coerce their clients into dumping certain users. There's absolutely nothing authoritarian about that! Seriously, this naive approach to things is going to ruin this country. The road to hell is truly paved by good intentions.

To me its more like closing the bar they hang out in, almost all of them will find other bars to go to instead almost immediately but it'll cause at least a temporary fracture and even when they all do find themselves back to the same place (asides from the ones who just got on with their lives), it'll take a while to build up the same kind of feedback loop. Honestly, as a teen (over a decade ago now...), there were forums I was on that totally died due to a week or two of downtime, sometimes just breaking someone away from their familiar habits is enough to get them out of a bad routine.

The notion that we could reach them on 8chan is a bit idealistic, the only thing we're able to reach is the manifestos within seconds of the news breaking as far as I can see. If your goal is to _reach_ them, then do it in reality.

> but rather these people and their ideologies.

I think it is rather strong[1] implied assumption here that places like 8chan can't change peoples' ideologies.

[1] If you ask me, the assumption is wrong.

I realized that seemed to be implied so I made an edit: "to reach them to talk".

The whole point of bringing 8chan down is to make it harder for them to congregate and fracture their community. It also makes it harder for new people to be indoctrinated.

Reddit found that banning hate subreddits reduced the overall usage of hate speech on the website. Even though the most dedicated users probably moved to voat, now some clueless kid who just wants to see look at memes is much less likely to just stumble upon that content.

If you ban specific people from using your website, why would they use it?

they'll just find another hub to congregate, but now we don't know where to reach them to talk

You don't.

Perhaps, but I do wonder if it actually mattered all that much whether 8chan encouraged this. There's evidence of contagion in mass shootings, that shooters seem to see the headlines about a shooting and become inspired to imitate it. Maybe there'd always be mass shootings tied to 8chan so long as there were news headlines tying the previous mass shootings to the site and leading future shooters towards it. Those certainly have a much broader reach than anything on the site itself.

It seems that the Ohio gunman claimed to be rather left leaning and wanted sen. Warren to be next president. Probably he hasn't read 8chan but still started shooting. He also claimed to be pro-Satan leftist, whatever it can possibly mean. So, I would say, that both he and large majority of public place murderers, serial killers, etc. are simply very sick people and presence of lack of presence of some random internet site does not make much difference.

A person can be sound and rational but people are tribal. It is deep human drive to find a tribe to belong to. What the internet has enabled is forming tribes irrespective of geographic proximity. Sites like 4chan/8chan allow people of radical persuasions to find each other and band together, growing their

That creates a powder keg waiting on a fight/flight trigger. Without a tribe to back someone, such a trigger will cause a flight response, but with that tribe they’ll feel emboldened and choose a fight strategy. Sites that encourage the formation of communities that promote violence will inevitably lead to actual violence once they’re past a certain size. It doesn’t even really matter what the ideology is, it just matters that they preach violence.

There is high chance that most of those in these groups don't even believe in most of the stuff they say. To them its just entertainment. People participate only because its a throwaway identity that is noncommittal. These groups have no leadership or loyalty. I'm sure this is understood a majority of the time by participants. The problem is that one individual who memes way too hard or is absolutely serious about the things they say. Real life friends call you out on your bullshit, they try to reason with you when you are irrational. they stop you from driving when you're drunk. Your internet troll squad does everything opposite.

> To them its just entertainment.

I would not doubt that a not very small percentage of the conspiracy theories posted are done so by people who don't actually believe it but want to see how many others they can convince.

However, I do also believe that some pretty sick people use 8chan to recruit people to continue their campaign of hate.

This sentiment is not at all applicable to 8chan, most people are very serious.

I'm not sure that's the case, how are you sure?

Because when people are joking they aren't usually willing to get into arguments that span hundreds of posts about race and IQ, the so-called parasitic nature of Jews, race mixing and why every race other than whites (with the ocassional exception of asians) is subhuman.

8chan is a platform allowing any kind of legal content. Pol is just one of them. You also have technology and comic book discussion for example.

So imagine you own a bunch of ponds and let groups of people use them. Some people use them for breeding goldfish. Some use them for canoe races. Some for swim meets.

But one of the biggest ponds you own lies still and stagnant. A perfect place for mosquitos to lay their eggs. In fact you’ve managed to make it especially hospitable to mosquitos that carry malaria. And all your other ponds are next to it, all your other ponds connect to it. Lots of people who come to your ponds for other things end up with malaria.

Should you be allowed to keep operating these ponds?

> Should you be allowed to keep operating these ponds?

Are your actions illegal? I don't want pond ownership determined by the moral outage of the day.

Mass murder as a tool of genocide is a bit more than 'the moral outrage of the day'.

Statistically, approximately nobody dies in mass shootings (per [0], 387 deaths in 2018). Getting up in arms about something so small is absolutely a moral panic.

[0] https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_mass_shootings_in_th...

Statistically, approximately nobody is worse off for 8ch being inaccessible.

Presumably you have some threshold of statistical significance that would cause you to be worried about risk factors, but that threshold is itself subjective. Besides the questionable proposition that the number of deaths below that threshold don't matter, a lack of interest in the problem impairs the ability to make future predictions, since by the time you do take it seriously, you'll have to do a lot of catching up before you can assess the future course of events.

you might like to think about this in similar terms to epidemiology. while a small number of fatalities from a disease outbreak in a remote location isn't that troubling to most people, epidemiologists are in the business o assessing the potential scope, speed, and severity of communicable diseases and seem to prefer nipping things in the bud to waiting to see whether they develop into a pandemic if left alone.

It's human psychology.

Of course more people die of cancer, diabetes, heart disease, car accidents (and probably any number of other things) than in mass shootings every day.

But the seemingly random and violent nature of it is what's scary.

I can eat healthier, exercise, buy a safer car, drive more carefully, etc etc. But mass shooters aren't really avoidable while leading a normal life. That makes it scary and noteworth.

I don't think equating people to mosquitos is a good analogy, it seems dehumanizing the other to me.

But let's roll with it anyway. What we have here is actually a large-scale land owner who leases out the land to anyone without further conditions to the lessee. It would seem silly to blame the leaser and not the lessee for what happens on those lands. Of course the government can still come in and request that they do something about the mosquitoes, if laws and regulations require that, but until then they won't become active because it would mean going back on their lease agreements which grant the lessee free use.

I visited 8chan/pol for the first time before it went down. I think reading content there should absolutely make anyone think hard about reasonable constraints on free speech. For example, I saw someone started a thread about population in Nigeria rising. Several anonymous commenters piled on, virtually everyone referring to Africans as “subhumans”. One commenter proposed that western countries should issue tags to hunt Africans in same way as animals and utilize their skills to survive as hunting challenge. Other commenter thanked Trump for shutting down Ebola research and hoped it will soon spread again. It was very clear no one had any rational debate. No one cared to fact check or cross-question anything. You can literally through whatever number and cite whatever source you want and everyone merely would go with it as long as it supports racial superiority. Everyone was busy one upping another in how grotesque and extreme they possibly could be. It is at this point I realized that hate is an addiction. I am certain it gives large dopamine hits for these people to consume all these material. It is probably highlight of their day to justify themselves as savior of humanity, being superior and created favorably by god than others. They probably hang out in here very large portions of their free time not for learning something but for pure entertainment derived dopamine hits. They are neither looking for nor want rational debates or reasoning from the other side. I can see how someone vulnerable will get in to these forums and become terminal addict. These forums should not be considered any less dangerous than drug dealers who handout cocain to young kids.

If you block 8chan, the only thing that it will result in is people will move to more censorship-resistant technologies. You will push people to TOR, distributed P2P, blockchain forums, etc. Which will make even harder to identify them.

You can't stop the signal. ThePirateBay proved it many many times.

We need to address the sources of the problem, not the symptoms.

Part of the problem is ease of access. Making it harder to get to is good.

It takes 60 seconds to find, download, and install tor. For people that's even less inclined, there are many tor2web gateways.

I don't want to go into specifics, but I spent time on some of the more unsavory parts of Reddit for a while. It got me into trouble with friends and family - I said some truly mean and hateful things. I was going deeper and deeper into it. But when Reddit banned those communities, I just... moved on.

I'm ashamed I ever let myself fall into the decaying orbit I did, but when the attractor was removed, I didn't seek out a new one. I didn't even have to install tor if I wanted to: they had just moved to Voat. Still, that tiny barrier to entry caught me. And I'm glad it did.

> download

That's already too much work for the vast majority of the population. If you can't just randomly stumble on it somewhere, it has no real discoverability.

Nobody in the history of the world has been radicalized because it was easy to access. They were radicalized because something they read resonated with something they experienced. People don't just accidentally turn into mass murderers because they read some pamphlet, a lot has to go wrong.

They don't in one step but in this analogy the pamphlet isn't static it constantly changes to show you more of what's engaging to you (or people like you as the algorithm understands you or as you engage more and more with that initial resonance) so that small initial resonance gets cranked up and up and up. It's hard to see how putting up a larger speed bump along that route won't decrease the number of people who get sucked into these radicalization spirals.

The internet has shown just how much making that slide easier means way more people fall into it. Used to be to get sucked into a world of neonazi/etc propaganda you had to know one and consciously choose to associate with it but now it gets lightly slipped into discussions online and is easy to find articles taking you to the next step.

Because the speed bump you are trying to erect only addresses the issue of people finding websites like 8chan, it does nothing to address the issue of why people stay on sites like 8chan as you described. Once they find the new site, they will be able to visit it again with ease. Furthermore, they will feel more victimized by society and point to their old sites being banned as evidence that society hates them; ergo, why they begin to hate society.

From the reporting and studying that's been done so far it seems like most people that wind up in this world get marginally attracted at first and then over time get sucked deeper and deeper into the more virulently hateful and violent edges of the ideology. My thought is that if you can sever the easy link between the on ramp and the end point people will still start over there but the jump from whatever weird subreddit or 8chan-alike to the violent side most people will stay on the clearnet.

Right. See flat earth, antivax, qanon, etc.

That's an incremental rather than a one-time process. Conventional wisdom on 8ch was that it takes about 2 years.

Torrenting isn't exactly easy, but it's insanely popular. Slightly complicated access will only stop some old people.

If someone creates an app that connects to some sort of distributed indestructible backend, it's game over, and all you need is an app.

Nowadays most people can't actually get anything off Piratebay cus they can't operate Tor

What are you even talking about? You get a magnet link off TPB, you put it into the torrent app or the seed box. No Tor needed.

There are alot of places where you can't really get to TPB without Tor.

I still wouldn't say "most people" can't access Pirate Bay. Install uTorrent, click the magnet link. Easy as that.

The very small subset of the population who live in a area where govt has blocked Piratebay can just use a VPN (which they likely already are for stuff like YouTube and Netflix).

> I've generally been on the free speech side of this debate, as some of my previous comments on HN will show.

> With 8chan, I legitimately don't know what my opinion is.

You can support free speech and still condemn 8chan, by considering Karl Popper’s Paradox of Tolerance[1]. If a person or group enacts violence on another person or group because of their ideas, the elements of the latter will curb their speech out of fear.

Violent groups use “free speech” as an excuse because it works. They’re only interested in free speech for themselves, not others. In fact, they’re so incapable of tolerating the free speech of others that they resort to killing them.

[1]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paradox_of_tolerance

there is no free speech side of this debate. framing the "other side" as not being free speech is false.

the free speech argument is that racist assholes should be allowed to say whatever they want, but cloudflare or voxility or any other service provider should also be allowed to tell 8chan to STFU and go away. that's part of free speech too. 8chan doesn't and shouldn't have any more rights here than cloudflare does.

Fyi 'the fire rises' is a reference to Bane from Batman

I think I'm on the same boat as you on this one; I tend to have a pretty libertarian view on free speech, but lately the bizarre rise of hyper-radical idiots on places like 8chan (and even YouTube to a lesser extent) has really made me question these things.

It's very easy to shout the mantra of "Free speech!!! OMG!!!" but we gain nothing by acting like there aren't natural consequences to it. By having a liberal free-speech system, you are going to expose glitches in the "marketplace of ideas", and demagogues and radicals are going to be able to exploit it.

It might still be worth it (I haven't made up my mind yet on where we draw the line in censorship).

I call this Confederate flag behavior.

There are a huge number of people who claim they support the Confederate flag in honor of those who lost their lives under it.

Okay. It was a racist and oppressive government, but I can understand that logic. People gave their lives, and even sacrifice in favor of an unjust cause is sacrifice.

That said... if that's what it's really about for them, then why didn't those folks say something when the flag was claimed by racists and white supremacists? Why didn't they defend it from those who would appropriate the symbol?

Silence carries its own liability.

And a lot of 8chan-style behavior that isn't guilty of outright instigation is certainly guilty of immoral silence.

Source: living in a southern US state

They did try to defend it. They were what was meant by the "good people on both sides" remark. They are up against an increasingly consolidated media empire that generally does not like the man who made that comment. It's unfair to put the onus of successful promulgation of a message against a wave of misinformation and misappropriation, and condemn them for failing at that.

For my example, I've lived in the south for 30 years.

I don't hear much about the Sons and Daughters of the Confederacy loudly denouncing racism.

That's not its unified mission. I don't hear the BDS movement speaking out that much against suicide bomb attacks on civilians either, but that doesn't automatically delegitimize all of their arguments about the Israeli occupation.

It doesn't, but IMHO it does delegitimize their position a bit by not doing so.

If you're tangential to violence and hate, and you don't denounce it strongly and frequently, people are going to wonder.

It's tough to make the distinction between acceptable and unacceptable speech on a case-by-case basis.

The classic extremist play is to patiently gnaw at the edges of acceptability. Subtle digs at Jews, blacks, Hispanics, muslims or non-muslims (you can insert any group here, really) pave the way for innuendos about their morals, work ethic, intellectual capacity etc.

You can gaslight perfectly normal, upstanding citizens into doubting their strongly held ethical convictions, first enough that they don't argue against e.g. racist loudmouths, then to the point that they don't argue for equal treatment of "out" groups. As this process plays out, it starts to seem dangerous to defend the maligned against violence, and eventually enough citizens will have had their sense of normal behaviour pushed far enough that atrocities become possible.

I don't know how to break that cycle. I do think the root causes need to be addressed, because poverty and social decline provide fertile ground for demagogues pointing fingers.

I'd like to think I never went too far with it, and I certainly was never violent or anything, but I got pretty big into the anti-feminist, #GamerGate, and "fight the SJW snowflakes!" crap from the years of ~2013-2016; basically the TLDR for that ending was when Donald Trump was elected I realized I was wrong to hold a lot of these viewpoints, and now it is not a chapter of my life that I am proud of.

I don't think I'm an idiot, and I would like to think that I'm normally a pretty decent human, and yet I was still able to be persuaded by morons on Youtube like Sargon of Akkad and Thunderf00t, and I spread the stupid memes along with most of my friends; I can easily see the alternate universe where I didn't realize I was wrong, and went further down the rabbit hole watching idiots like Stefan Molyneux or something.

I think people like to pretend that they and everyone they care about are immune to propaganda.

Sadly we are all manipulable. Tho being aware of that fact makes you a lot more resilient to manipulation and more likely to end up with a life you would have chosen. So kudos.

Study political science, propaganda, psychology of advertising, this is something that can make you resilient to propaganda. Just being aware that you may get manipulated can't help you much as you have to be able to spot it effortlessly everywhere.

As a fellow math enthusiast, I would love to grab a coffee or beer with you next time I'm in NYC and hear about this journey. Care to email me? laughinghan@gmail.com

Totally agree. But also one needs to say that this is of course the tip of the ice berg. I don't think people land there right away, but rather start maybe at some "normal" YouTube video's comment section or the comment section of some politics focussed news site.

People voice their trashy opinions there - which is totally fine - but there are so few balancing/calming opinions. Especially if you have some conspiracy affine news site/YT video, these balancing/calming opinions are just not present.

My conclusion at the moment is that more balanced people (no, not bots :)) should visit these sites and write calming/positive comments. Dialogue has become pretty unfashionable in 2019, monologues seem to have become the norm unfortunately although I think there is hope.

My concern: the person expressing 'calming, positive comments' gets doxed and/or SWAT'ed for their efforts.

I agree in principle with what your suggesting, but at this point those boards are echo chambers, not spaces for discussion.

Valid concern... Probably one shouldn't approach the situation with a 'improve discussion' hat on, but rather with a 'participating in critical discussion' hat. I mean just people actually reading articles, comments, thinking about them and answering would probably be a high advancement in culture.

I recently got an account at a more or less alt-right news website and the comments there were all just rants that stood for themselves.

"Free speech" protections DO NOT APPLY to a private company deciding whether to provide internet services to something like 8chan.


I continue to be surprised at the level to which people misunderstand this.

> I continue to be surprised at the level to which people misunderstand this.

That's probably because you are actually the one misunderstanding. The argument it sounds like you're making (I apologize if I'm reading you wrong) is the often made one that "Freedom of speech only protects you from the government". This argument equivocates the idea of freedom of speech with the First Amendment.

Many Americans, and freedom loving folks internationally, believe that freedom of speech is critical for a liberal democracy to exist. Many of the American founders believed in the idea and enshrined it in our Bill of Rights to make sure the Government can not violate it. They did not, however, create he idea of freedom of speech, which existed long before the Bill of Rights, exists outside of America and outside of the context of Government and Citizens.

Think of it like murder. People do not find murder reprehensible because it is illegal. It is illegal because it is reprehensible, and most people would not support it regardless of its legal status (I hope). The idea of murder and the legality of murder are related but separate.

Your argument is therefore taking as narrow a scope of the idea of freedom of speech as possible and then arguing against that, which is a type of straw man argument. I hope that clarifies the logic fallacies involved in your argument and helps you better understand those you disagree with.

Most people understand that fine. It's about freedom of speech as a social principle and value, not strictly a matter of law.

It's granted that people are within their rights to throw out speech they dislike and that there's a world of difference between severing a voluntary business relationship and the deployment of state force, but the implications of an anxious, PR-sensitive set of internet infrastructure providers is certainly fair game for discussion.

If we get into the habit of shutting down every site that attracts a spate of negative attention, it still has the aggregate effect of chilling free discourse. If a shooter came onto HN and posted a manifesto here, would it withstand the mainstream media onslaught?

Well, wait, the question is whether or not internet service is considered a utility, and whether or not that utility is allowed to take a "side" as a result.

I think that 8chan is terrible and I would rather it not exist, but at the same time, I would be pretty against denying its owners water or something, since we've decided that utilities don't get to take sides.

Wouldn't that be more like public roads? You couldn't decide that Fords are not allowed on a road, just because of the brand, but Ford is perfectly within their rights to not sell a car to somebody, just as Cloudflare and Voxility have decided to sell their hosting services to 8chan.

Well, that's the question.

I'm not saying I disagree with you, evidently; the line in which we draw "utility" is a discussion that I really don't know that I have a good viewpoint. Are you entitled to having a soapbox to shout off of? I'm genuinely not sure.

Yeah, I agree. Up until the internet, getting information out there required resources and/or a platform to speak from, be it the pulpit, a newspaper, etc. If you had something to say, you had to go through such great effort to say it.

What do we even do, besides sit and watch? I've totally shifted the way I browse the web to reduce my exposure to toxic information, and I think that the whole corporate banning of Alex Jones was a net positive, but what happens when a voice I agree with gets shunned in the same way?

What a messy problem

Most 'internet as utility' arguments though don't extend to hosting or other services though, only the physical infrastructure that exists as a near monopoly (and at best is usually a duopoly of one cable and one DSL provider) in most locations. The argument is they shouldn't get to play favorites because the ability for competitors to come in and provide competition to limit bad behavior is extremely limited.

> I continue to be surprised at the level to which people misunderstand this.

It isn't "misunderstanding" it is willfully ignoring to push a narrative. I sincerely doubt most of the people here calling this a violation of free speech are doing so in good faith.

It is a pretty basic set of logical steps to determine that a private business refusing to serve a customer is perfectly okay and should be encouraged. Arguing that a private business should be forced at gunpoint by government goons to do business with nazis or racist assholes doesn't make any sense at all.

All the attempts to derail into minutia like "cloudflare is a utility" is simply done to wear you out.

> I think I'm on the same boat as you on this one; I tend to have a pretty libertarian view on free speech, but lately the bizarre rise of hyper-radical idiots on places like 8chan (and even YouTube to a lesser extent) has really made me question these things.

there have always been hyper-radical idiots. with 8chan and such, you can see them.

you're not getting rid of anything, you're just sticking your head into the sand.

> there have always been hyper-radical idiots. with 8chan and such, you can see them.

Sure, I'm aware that the KKK existed before the internet.

> you're not getting rid of anything, you're just sticking your head into the sand.

I didn't claim I was getting rid of anyone or anything. I didn't really claim much at all in my post, but there's a difference between "getting rid" of stuff and deplatforming it.

For that matter, how does your logic make any sense? If I hire a hitman to kill someone, could my defense in court be "Well he was going to kill somebody anyway! You're just sticking your head in the sand by blaming me for it!"

Is your argument that rhetoric, delivered consistently enough and effectively enough, can't possibly influence people to do reprehensible things?

However, most southern states still have anti-masking laws on the books specifically to discourage KKK meetings and actions.

Just like 8chan isn't getting rid of them either. They're just pushing them to a different platform where its going to be harder to keep tabs on these people.

I just wonder with all the technology we have at our disposal, how is it these people continue to slip through the system undeterred to escalate this type of violence?

It's more like sticking their head into the sand, isn't it (metaphorically)?

I've never figured out a good way to express this without sounding like a raving censor, but here goes: I feel like freedom of speech is a means to an end (the end being general freedom and liberty) more than an end in itself. When speech leads directly to mass fear or violence engendering mass fear, which leads to people willingly sacrificing their own and others' rights just for the promise of safety, then bitter realpolitik says that we may need to limit certain kinds of speech to maintain vital freedoms.

Of course that's dangerous thinking in itself, because there's always potential for abuse when you let someone decide what people aren't allowed to say. But there has to be a balance somewhere. I hope we can find it.

> I've read it before, and I spent a few hours reading it this weekend, and it's beyond clear to me that it absolutely had the potential to radicalize shooters and terrorists.

What was it you read there that convinced you that websites are capable of turning people into murderers any more than video games are?

An implicit acceptance and endorsement for the messages of hate and violence?

I personally doubt violent video games turn people into murderers; I suspect they do desensitize people to violence, and normalize violence. That's the problem with 8chan: violence, hated, bigotry, etc are normalized

>An implicit acceptance and endorsement for the messages of hate and violence?

you mean the same thing alot of movies and videogames do also?

Do you not think that discussion has the potential to convey ideas and change minds? It hardly seems implausible to say that a group of people eagerly urging each other to murder could possibly result in someone getting murdered.

The individual has rights to speak and, sing and write freely.

If printing, a supplier has no obligation to provide paper or ink or typesetting.

The same is true for music producers. Make all the Nazi Punk garage band cassettes you want, but don't expect Jack FM to give you airplay.

Good data providers don't want Federal heat or the drag on the public perception.

Again, as I said in my other comment, this just sounds like a right wing version of Twitter.

free speech is highly overrated, is not even granted in other democracies that are functional

It has also not prevented the US to go into a de-facto oligarchy state if anything the NRA and others have manipulated the "free speech cult" to promote private interest over a public one.

Same as with gun ownership, that sad illusion that owning guns will prevent tyranny is beyond hilarious at this point.

> thread of support

So framing an event and pushing a narrative when one neither likes the frame nor the narrative is now an offence requiring the sacking of media?

When mass-media is busy framing and legitimizting the next War On Something it's in the cards again!


If people can't handle reality, you should accept that not shut it out.

You could simply say that threat actors that are allowed to post in the open are much more accessible and predictable than ones who do not.

You could say that. But you'd be wrong.

There is absolutely no evidence that the 8chan circle-hate happening out in the open has had any mitigating effect. It only made it accessible to even the technically illiterate among the potential audience.

There's no evidence that law enforcement took any action till afterwards, and on multiple occasions. So is the medium to blame or is the clear lack of policing?

We wouldn't tolerate the existence of an Islamist site that glorified and helped perpetrate mass incidents of terror against our society. What 8chan is doing is exactly the same, minus the Islamist part, yet there's hypocrisy in how they're treated vs e.g. the social media wing of ISIS.

These people are trying to kill as many of us as possible. In no way should society accept it. It's simple societal self-defense. Root out the terrorists wherever they may congregate, regardless of whichever flavor of terrorist they happen to be.

Cloudflare provides services to a number of Islamist terror organizations: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/cloudflare-cybersecurity-terr...

> Cloudflare provides services to a number of Islamist terror organizations

yes, and that entire article is about people trying to get them to take them down and the criminal statute they're using to force the issue, which is part of the GP's point. Not a lot of folks in the federal government hand wringing about deplatforming on that one.

And yet, Cloudflare didn't take them down proactively like they did with The Daily Stormer and now 8chan. Under what standards are sites like 8chan worse than the Taliban?

Looks like the standard is there hasn’t been enough bad press about their material support of those terrorist orgs yet. They clearly wait for the public outrage before acting.

According to some CEO interview they hold on as long as possible until forced otherwise.

This is relevant as the censorship here (whether justified or not, right or wrong it is censorship) is not done by CF, but by a faceless internet mob that is attacking both CF and 8chan.

CF has all the right to terminate its relationships with anyone. social media mobs should not force companies to exercise that right.

> According to some CEO interview they hold on as long as possible until forced otherwise.

I think an appropriate qualifier here might be that they used to hold on as long as possible. I don't think that's universally true anymore.

> This is relevant as the censorship here (whether justified or not, right or wrong it is censorship) is not done by CF, but by a faceless internet mob that is attacking both CF and 8chan.

In the same sense that a mob outside the courthouse ensured a guilty verdict, perhaps. But it's still the jurors who actually acted.

> In the same sense that a mob outside the courthouse ensured a guilty verdict, perhaps. But it's still the jurors who actually acted.

I am not sure what you mean here... but I would find in both cases very problematic that a mob could wield such power. A mob is not a democratic representation.

I meant that the mob may have made demands, but the only power the mob has is that which it is given. Just like the verdict reached by those jurors, Cloudflare chose their own path.

Mob power come mostly from two sources. First, the one you point out, people/companies yielding and affirming the efficacy of their method. Second from other public figure joining in the pressure.

The reason the mob has power is in the end that they do not get criticized by those they respect.


Without being forced by a court to do so.

Probably it's closer to home- those sites fuel domestic terrorism, whereas the Taliban do not. Also public pressure and public attention. They're probably incredibly hesitant to take anything down, but if something becomes front page news then they have to deal with it. Also I don't know what's proactive about any of this, if anything it's way too little too late. The sites you mention provide absolutely zero value to anything resembling civilization- they're gathering places for sociopaths and psychotic morons. I'm not even close to being remotely upset that they may have been treated more harshly than actual ISIS or Taliban sites or whatever. There is a level of pathetic beneath which it all just kind of blends together and it doesn't make sense to attempt to rank them. Yeah, ISIS is shittier than the people who like Daily Stormer, but they're both so shitty that it's not really possible to rank their shittiness relative to each other. It's like the difference between jumping off a 50 story building vs. a 100 story building- there is a distinction, but it doesn't really matter.

I don't think 8chan was exactly a good site, but I'd still put it in the category of "internet-neutral". There's some horrible stuff there (which is all you really hear about), a lot of neutral stuff and a little bit of good.

IMO the reason Cloudflare took down TDS and 8chan but not the Taliban or Hamas is simply outgroup vs fargroup. [0] The operators, users and targets of 8chan or TDS are all familiarly western but different enough to hate, while islamic terror organizations are so different it's hard to relate to them - sort of like that joke about how the more similar two religious denominations are, the more likely it is that they hate the other. [1]

0: https://slatestarcodex.com/2014/09/30/i-can-tolerate-anythin...

1: https://www.theguardian.com/stage/2005/sep/29/comedy.religio...

I agree with you. Those sites were closer to home and less alien to Americans, and thus might get more scrutiny and judgement. That's got to be a factor. But I've got to think avoiding bad publicity and negative headlines is the #1 factor behind any inconsistencies in their reaction. The news cycle can be a powerful force for companies concerned about how they're perceived by their investors.

> But I've got to think avoiding bad publicity and negative headlines is the #1 factor behind any inconsistencies in their reaction.

I don't see this working out well for them when it comes to total negative news. Would we have seen nearly as many requests to Cloudflare asking for 8chan to be cut off if they had not already done so for The Daily Stormer?

It's hard to say. It's never going to be a win/win for them, and unfairly cutting someone off would be terrible publicity for them. I'd imagine they're totally inconsistent about these things and don't spend hardly any time policing their customers (nor should they). I have a feeling these things tend to be on a case-by-case basis, mostly fueled by investor concerns, but I guess that just doesn't bother me like it does some people. I don't see them as having any responsibility at all to be guardians of free speech or anything, maybe that's the distinction.

On a more practical level, most internet infrastructure firms based in the US or Europe probably don't have that many people on staff who are fluent in Arabic, Pashto and other languages that would allow the quick identification of terrorists, as opposed to normal people who sometimes discuss terrorism as spectators of the news.

True, but these weren't terrorist propaganda sites, they were the official websites of Hamas & Co, and they do have an english version for anyone not familiar with Hamas. Zoho apparently is providing Email to them.

It being their official sites gives those value / legitimacy and makes them even more okay to not kick them off. Kind of like there should be hardly anything the US president can do to get kicked off twitter.

The US president isn't classified as a terrorist (organization) though, while Hamas is. CF's argument was that they weren't providing material support, otherwise they'd be breaking the law.

If 8chan or dailystormer never made the news, cloudflare would still be hosting them. It isn’t public opinion that is the big factor, enterprise client won’t use controversial services. Having a few large enterprise customers call up saying they can’t be hosted with a hate site is what made the CEO of cloudflare flip his decision.

I do think cloudflare will be forced to be more palatable to enterprise customers if they go public. One biggest factors why I don’t use them is who they provide access to.

I think you have it spot on, but public opinion is driving those enterprise customers to make that call. They still support the terror group websites, even after being informed of them, so it’s not based on policy but rather a business decision.

If I was choosing for a company like Monsanto that has the possibility of getting majorly shat on by internet opinion, Cloudflare's seeming policy of "if the media hates you, we'll drop you" would be the exact opposite of comforting.

If I were a US intelligence organization I would be incredibly happy that terror organizations were voluntarily letting a US company MITM all of their traffic...

Who has a higher body count in the West, Alt-Righters or ISIS?

We wouldn't tolerate the existence of an Islamist site that glorified and helped perpetrate mass incidents of terror against our society.

We used to, until quite recently. You could read Dabiq, the well-produced magazine of ISIL/ISIS.[1] They definitely glorified their terrorist incidents. With color pictures of their operations. All with religious justification. "Islam is the religion of the sword, not pacifism". (Dabiq, issue 7.)

Dabiq probably inspired enemies more than supporters. Dabiq says that there can be no compromise until the followers of Allah rule the earth. So ISIS could never have a peaceful border with anybody. On March 23, 2019, the last territory controlled by ISIS was captured.

8Chan is a minor annoyance in comparison. I'd let them blither and look foolish.

[1] https://clarionproject.org/islamic-state-isis-isil-propagand...

They have gone from blithering to murdering. ICYMI

> We wouldn't tolerate the existence of an Islamist site that glorified and helped perpetrate mass incidents of terror against our society.

Speak for yourself, I would. I've downloaded and distributed ISIS propaganda videos before out of sheer intrigue.

Just because someone says something you don't like doesn't mean you should ban it. Of course, this will be downvoted to hell because this is a hot topic at the moment, but we shouldn't let that too-near emotion influence out policies. We've seen that lead to stuff like the PATRIOT act in the past and we surely don't need another one of those.

Out of all the internet contrarian arguments Ive seen this is one of the best.

> Speak for yourself, I would. I've downloaded and distributed ISIS propaganda videos before out of sheer intrigue.

It will be downvoted because it's INSANE, not because it's a hot topic.

ISIS propaganda isn't banned for the fun of it or because "too near emotions influencing policies", it's banned for the effect that it casuses, the intention it has, and the attorcities it shows.

There's a difference between supporting free speech and you spreading around videos of murders, executions of innocent people who have families, and calls for more murders of innocent people all over the world. Just because those things don't make you want to kill someone, doesn't change the fact that they do help radicalize other people.

Well, let's be clear, I simply downloaded a torrent and let it seed for a while.

You seem strongly opinionated on this one though, I'm curious, what do you think of Tor or BitTorrent? Should such services be banned as they aid in the distribution of this type of thing too? If you're running a Tor middle node you're part of the distribution of not just all sorts of propaganda like this, but far, far worse things.

Do you think banning these services, reigning in control of information to "help prevent radicalization" in a China-esque way would be a good decision? In my view this is just part of living in a free society, freedom sometimes costs security.

I don't think those services should be banned as that's not their only purpose. I do think that anyone knowingly spreading racist, extremist, terrorist material should be punished.

Platforms that can, but do not, enforce rules to remove such content should also be punished and forbidden.

I would not sacrifice the lives of the ones I love in the name of free speech. Promoting terrorist content increases ever so slightly the chances of your loved ones and your family being hurt by those who get radicalized due to such content.

If "China-esque way" is what it takes then so be it.

Interesting, most Tor operators are doing so because they feel that people should have a right to anonymity or an uncensored internet connection. I'd even argue that Tor trades lives in a far more direct way than 8chan ever could given that fentanyl and weapon sales as well as plotting of child abductions or slave sales occur right there.

Tor operators in doing so are making a choice: they feel the freedom of anonymity and speech are more important than human lives, even the lives of children.

I'd argue that running a Tor node is explicitly making that choice and that statement, so then it confuses me why you seem to be okay with Tor but more questioning of 8chan and similar services where the choice is made less directly. Is it a matter of having the ability to discern "good" uses from "evil"? You're surely accepting both uses by operating a Tor node and knowingly doing so, so I don't see how that makes sense.

If you want to look at gun laws on the other hand, that's a freedom for security trade that seems more debatable given that other countries have the same access to information, but not nearly the same gun violence problems.

> it's banned for the effect that it casuses, the intention it has, and the attorcities it shows.

What rational person will see an ISIS video and go: "Hmm this looks good, guess I should join ISIS".

When he distributed the content he didn't pick only the rational ones. Many people did exactly that, joining ISIS, traveling to Syria, doing terrorist attacks in their own countries.

They didn't get the ideas to do that out of the blue, without seeing or hearing any of the propaganda content.

People aren’t rational. And many will.

That’s one way to get onto a list.

At a guess, you don't belong to, or have friends in, groups ISIS believes deserve to be put to death.

weird flex but ok

I've downloaded


and distributed ISIS propaganda videos

Do elaborate on your motives for and style of distribution.

Not him, but I would do it because I can.

Well, that could mean anything.

I mean this seriously, more Americans should see what those ISIS videos are like.

More Americans should read the writings of Osama bin Laden too.

It's not that this material isn't horrendous, but it's very different from what you'd expect -- the people behind it are not dumb, and like all good propaganda the rationale is selectively built on compelling facts.



This isn't censorship, it's someone being shown the door.


Would you please stop posting unsubstantive comments?

Personal attacks, in particular, will get you banned here, so please don't do that again.


What's the point of accusing me of lying? Either take my argument at face value or don't bother replying.

> This isn't censorship, it's someone being shown the door.

Are you a moderator?

No. Must I be to show someone the community's proverbial door?

The point was downvotes. That's how the HN community shows someone the door. HN itself shows someone the door by banning them.

> No. Must I be to show someone the community's proverbial door?

Speaking for the whole site like that comes off as rather pompous. Not to mention the comment is now "in the black" on points, so it's not even clear that the community even agrees with you.

Are we talking about the comment? The one I'm talking about is flagged/dead.

Yea, I wouldn't pretend to speak for the community - for some reason our OP insinuated I do by asking if I'm a moderator.

What I'm trying to say is that a negative karma post has been shown the door by the community. That statement remains true from my perspective regardless if I upvoted, downvoted, or did not engage with that comment.

Damn that's cool as hell. Maybe you have some balisong tricks you'd also like to show me?

> We wouldn't tolerate the existence of an Islamist site that glorified and helped perpetrate mass incidents of terror against our society.

I certainly would tolerate those sites. Free speech arguments aside, you can't kill the hydra, but you can severely degrade intelligence operations watching that hydra. Best case the bad guys all end up on sites already being surveilled, worst case they slip under the radar.

We had this problem years ago, hacktivists targeting ISIS channels. They scatter to the winds, intelligence ends up doing more work for less rewards.

Feel good outrage made things worse.

Exactly this. These sort of folk started congregating on 8chan when they got pushed out of 4chan. I certainly don't condone mass shootings, white supremacists, etc., but if you think denying 8chan hosting is going to solve this problem, you are sorely mistaken. All it does is force these people into more concentrated forums where there is less push back and opposing views to their radical ideas. Ultimately, it forces them into corners of the internet that are harder for outside groups to locate and monitor for potential threats.

I'll be quite honest, I don't know what a "good" solution here is, but I really don't think this is it.

Disagree. Of course people recongregate in less well-known haunts, but there's a cost to them in doing so, it massively inhibits recruitment, and when there's an influx of new users after the sinking of a platform security standards tend be much lower, making it that much easier to infiltrate.

In war, degrading your enemy's communications and lines of supply is often more effective than engaging in battle.

Lone wolf attacker has no supply line to degrade. The El Paso shooter used 8chan to distribute his manifesto, we have no indication that caused his radicalization.

Empirical evidence suggests that the 'lone wolf' stereotype is not well grounded in reality, and that social networks can be essential for the development of both ideological conviction and the acquisition of practical know-how.


While we need to wait for more detail to fully understand the path of radicalization, I am moderately confident in predicting the El Paso shooter visited 8ch regularly for at least 6 months, probably much longer, but posted infrequently if at all.

On the other hand making them harder to access also makes the ideas spread slower because if you get all of say white supremacist sites off Google you massively cut down on the number of random 'normies' that will fall in and get swept up in the group. Same thing applies but is probably even more effective for getting groups off the regular internet all together because then you have to convince someone to install TOR (or whatever the new flavor of the month is) to get them into the funnel.

> I'll be quite honest, I don't know what a "good" solution here is, but I really don't think this is it.

At the very least a good post-mortem analysis would be nice.

I guess I'll settle for watching the finger-pointing dumpster fire.

That makes sense when the hydra is just quietly plotting. But what about if the site is the hydra's head-growing organ, i.e. radicalization platform? Disrupting recruitment seems like a viable strategy against hydras of all sorts.

That only works if you're actually going to act on the intelligence gathered from having the discussion centralized. That's something the U.S. is clearly willing to do with, e.g., ISIS. But even what limited programs we had towards combating white nationalist terrorism were canceled by Trump.

And a few months later ISIS died because the lack of easily-spread propaganda destroyed its ability to recruit susceptible idiots to its cause to replace all the soldiers that were being killed.

IOW, mission accomplished.

ISIS is still very much an active organization, even if they don't control physical territory any longer.

I think that was sarcasm / a George W. reference, or least assume it is since I was referring to events circa 2015.

Is that what you honestly think happened?

Facebook for a few weeks didn't want to remove video of a Mexican woman being beheaded. https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/fa...

There is a fallacy in your thinking imo. Sites like 8chan are not entirely devoted to radicalisation, just like a mosque is not devoted to radicalisation.

Yet sometimes in a mosque some evil islamic imam or something preaches radicalisation.

Yet we tolerate and welcome mosques. Then why shouldn’t we tolerate and welcome sites like 8chan?

Also please keep in mind that now that 8chan has been basically shut down, we have no way of make an opinion of our own.

What are you talking about? We can and do arrest, charge, and convict "evil islamic imams" that "preach radicalization", and don't let them operate mosques. We tolerate and welcome mosques because they ban radicals and report them to the FBI:

"Monteilh eventually so unnerved Orange County's Muslim community that that they got a restraining order against him. [T]hey also reported Monteilh to the FBI"


You do know that Homeland is a TV show and not real life, right?

A mosque that openly fostered extremism like 8chan did would of course get shut down. By contrast, 8chan has not been shut down. Its operations have been disrupted, but it hasn't shut down, anymore than Cloudflare has shut down just because they had a site outage last month.

> What are you talking about? We can and do arrest, charge, and convict "evil islamic imams" that "preach radicalization", and don't let them operate mosques.

Indeed, you arrest the single imam, you don't shut down the whole mosque. That's the point.

If a mosque openly fostered extremism in spite of arrests and multiple massacres, you'd have a problem with their landlord refusing to continue to rent to them?

> We wouldn't tolerate the existence of an Islamist site that glorified and helped perpetrate mass incidents of terror against our society.

I completely disagree. I've read Dabiq[1] and similar publications because I want to know why people believe the things they believe. It is a good thing that such horrible ideas are available to the public, and for the same reason that it's good that flat earth sites are available to the public. JS Mill puts it best[2]:

> But the peculiar evil of silencing the expression of an opinion is, that it is robbing the human race; posterity as well as the existing generation; those who dissent from the opinion, still more than those who hold it.

> If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth: if wrong, they lose, what is almost as great a benefit, the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth, produced by its collision with error.

It is for these same reasons that I also read /pol/ and /leftypol/ on 8chan.

1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dabiq_(magazine)

2. https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/On_Liberty/Chapter_2

And yet, we let Islam continue to be preached in this nation. When will we recognize that extremist ideologies like these can not be allowed to fester? Freedom of speech needs its limits.

First they came for the ragh'ds, but that was ok cuz I didn't like em and who wears a carpet anyway. Then..


These aren't exactly organized bands of people funneling in millions of dollars for carrying out actual training and misson planning/execution. They're watering holes where disaffected elements of society hyperbolically play up various happenings.

Just take a step back for a moment. We have an increasing population and increasing saturation of that population with streams of data. When something happens, we know with a speed that is uncommon in human history (to be euphemistic about it).

More population = more happenings = more things to emotionally charge people in the same 24 hour frame. Even if population increases by a bajillion, we still only have 24 hours in a media cycle.

Even if the per capita incidence of violence decreases, a rising population means more slices of highly charged emotional manipulation within the same media cycle.

Edit: So instead of increasing population, resultant increasing pop density, increasing information density, and a myriad of clusterf* systems running haywire (even in an era where we're safer than even 20 years ago)...4chan and 8chan are the devil and satan for allowing people to shitpost in a hyperbolic hyperironic manner?

The "hyperirony" excuse is complete bullshit. It's not redeeming when the defense is that they only support, encourage, and enable terrorism because it's a joke. That would make it more despicable, even. Instead we have incredibly racist and hateful people who don't see themselves that way making excuses. They're still shit humans. You don't murder people and say it was irony as your defense.

Shit humans have always existed. But claiming they support "terrorism" in the same sense that we think of organizational terrorism is ridiculous.

4chan and 8chan didn't create hyperirony (although they certainly cultivate massive gardens of it) or densensitization. Our media cycle has created it in tandem with a feedback loop that synergizes with the principle of "more people + same time amount = more hyperslices of emotion eliciting news that distort mental maps of larger-than-self situations"

You're safer at a wal-mart than prior 4chan and 8chan. But if you combine higher population density and information density, you'll get more raw events of violence even if the chance of experiencing violence has gone down.

Imo, there's a more insidious risk in allotting more powers of censorship to entities who are far less subject to reciprocal investigation. Think of 9/11. If we had done nothing, we would be safer and more prosperous today. We let the fleas provoke us into gouging untold amounts of flesh to stop itches.

Edit: A more simple way to phrase it is that hyperirony and the lack of "proper affect", which is really what people seem to be most horrified about, is a defense against the 24/7 atrocity exhibition which turns emotion into banality.

I guess it would fall under stochastic terrorism, so the modus operandi is different (it doesn't need secretive cell networks for example), but it's not ridiculous to compare it.

It is ridiculous because it's a consequence of anonymity which is still precious enough to ward off against knee jerk emotionalism. As I said, 9/11 was my lesson on how much more magnificentally messed up a sort of societal "immunological reaction" can be in comparison to the actual illness. The thought of a crackdown is both a more chilling outcome and a potential catalyst for actual organizational terrorism if people can't let off steam*

* - Note that more people, especially younger folks with their hyperbolic tendencies, and anonymity means more raw sociopathy and psychopathy being displayed in relation to those events. It's at least partially a function of the numbers game.

But I said "lol" what more do you want from me? A "lel" perhaps?

Fahrenheit 451

> We wouldn't tolerate the existence of an Islamist site

Why? Think about what you're saying. Imagine equivalents:

1. We wouldn't allow cell phones that let terrorists communicate

2. We wouldn't allow roads that allow anyone to carry whatever contra-ban they want down them.

3. We wouldn't allow trains that allow just anyone to carry books on whatever topic they want.

4. We can't allow for air that allows two willing participants to communicate using sound waves.

The hubris to imagine that we dare have a say in whether a group of adults date to communicate with each other.

The difference is that every single one of your counterexamples is something that society depends on.

Nobody depends on 8chan. 8chan is not comparable to "air".

This point is so incredibly banal that I'm surprised to find myself making it.

Indeed, but speech itself is is. I think OP's point was that free-speech is as fundamental a "air" and that everybody everywhere depends on it.

And they're free to continue their speech elsewhere. Cloudflare and Voxility are within their rights to refuse service to a client on the basis that the client is persistently associated with terrorism and kiddy porn.

Why is that a remotely controversial statement? Nobody is suggesting that chan-tards should be rounded up for unamerican activities, and I'd be the first to speak against that, but CF don't need to tarnish their brand with 8chans bullshit.

They're free to withhold their support and so express an opinion.

> Why is that a remotely controversial statement?

Because Cloudflare used to say that they would never take anyone down, and now they have. I think it's valid to wonder if they'll be more willing to take down other content, and perhaps become a target by groups looking to restrict the spread of certain information now that they've shown that this is something they're willing to do. This also brings up the point of why Cloudflare thought this specific website was worth taking down, and not the other horrible things that they do support.


It is funny. This exactly the argument put forth with 2nd amendment. No one needs all them weapons of wohr.

Well, say you're cruising around the fringes of the web one day and you stumble on a forum where people are plotting to kill you. You, personally. What do you do?

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