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8chan's new provider BitMitigate goes offline (arstechnica.com)
24 points by cyborch 6 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 42 comments



Jeez, this is getting dumb fast.

So now CDNs and Cloud providers are operating politically, determing who can and cannot use their services depending on their beliefs; whats next, the ISPs?

Within like 5 years, we went from facebook being a problem because it has power to direct politics through its incredible reach and filtering algorithms.. to suddenly every tech company, through the whole stack, wants a say on the matter?

At least facebook had the “algorithms” defense, that they didn’t intentionally apply their political views into their ecosystems; this is far more direct — CEOs realizing they have a power over an infrastructure to weaponize their beliefs (generally agreeable, or not)

How did we jump from net nuetrality politics to.. this? Just the difference between monetary reasons versus political?


>So now CDNs and Cloud providers are operating politically, determing who can and cannot use their services depending on their beliefs; whats next, the ISPs?

Yeah, this has always been the case. There's literally nothing new here.

Fascinating to hear these expert opinions from people who have obviously never dealt with the hosting industry.

If you think nazis and other undesirables have a right to hosting, then go ahead and start your own nazi hosting company. If cybercriminals can manage this, I'm sure you guys can do it too.


It's because there is a wide distance between these two positions:

(a) People who publicly support white supremacy should be imprisoned by the government.

(b) Businesses should not make money by hosting or providing services to people who publicly support white supremacy.

It's very easy to think that (b) is true, but (a) is false; this is a popular position among free speech advocates who know the law.


There's more factors in play, too. It's coherent to think B && !A, but also (C) Unelected members of the press should not have the power to shame businesses into excluding individuals and organizations.


What about just me? I'm not a member of the press.

Should I not have the power to shame businesses into excluding individuals and organizations?

Perhaps they're doing something they should be ashamed of.


No, you shouldn't have that power. Doing business with someone and providing services to them isn't and shouldn't be an endorsement of their values. Jeffrey Epstein should be able to hire whatever legal council he wants, convicted sex offenders should be able to find an apartment upon release, gun stores should be able to take credit card payments, and generally speaking you shouldn't get excluded from the benefits of modern society simply for being unpopular, no matter how just the reasoning.


So, in other words: Freedom of association should not exist.

Am I getting this right?


Not at all. I'm not complaining about Cloudflare or Voxility dropping customers. I'm complaining about the press using their influence to pressure those companies into dropping customers.

You're still free to drop a customer for whatever reason. I just want the press to be held accountable for the torts they're committing and the economic harm they are causing.


Ah, so freedom of association is OK. Freedom of speech is not though?

> press using their influence to pressure those companies into dropping customers

So what does that even look like? Odds are it looks like this:

"Hey, I'm working on a story about 8chan and heard you guys host them. Do you have anything to say about that?"

I guess what you're saying is that the press should just not be allowed to report on this stuff.

>torts they're committing

such as? IANAL, but the first amendment provides strong protections against tortious interference claims.


I'm not a free speech absolutist. If you cause certain established categories of harm, you should be held liable for the damages you cause.

Specific example: https://mobile.twitter.com/alexstamos/status/115839279568757...

BitMitigate has a case for tortious interference over this tweet, IMO. Alex knew of contracts between BitMitigate and 8chan (or Voxility), used his influence to induce Voxility to make it impossible for BitMitigate to fulfill their 8chan contract (or for the breach of their voxility contract), Alex was not privileged to interfere, and there were economic damages suffered. That's all the elements necessary for a tortious interference with contract claim.

>IANAL, but the first amendment provides strong protections against tortious interference claims.

Indeed it does. Generally, merely sharing truthful information does not provide a basis for tortious interference. The problem I have isn't that these sorts of statements are false, but that they come attached with a threat of an active negative PR campaign. The format of twitter makes this particularly salient, since it makes it easy to get viral traction and hard to communicate extensive information. And the tweet I linked earlier didn't tell Voxility anything it didn't already know, it simply publicized things and used the author's influence coercively.


>threat of an active negative PR campaign

I'm sorry, but this doesn't feel like an accurate characterisation. Stamos isn't financing or organising an actual PR campaign, he's just publicly telling the truth.

If the truth happens to be outrageous, that's not his fault.

>And the tweet I linked earlier didn't tell Voxility anything it didn't already know

Dunno, Voxility is huge.

>it simply publicized things and used the author's influence coercively.

If the truth is coercive, perhaps that's not on the author?


It absolutely is organizing and advocating a campaign: https://mobile.twitter.com/alexstamos/status/115802918989673...

>If the truth is coercive, perhaps that's not on the author?

You're ignoring the context. Blue check with 50k followers who has testified to congress on tech matters, multiple followup tweets @voxility by others, and intense media scrutiny of 8chan and their business partners following the El Paso shooting. The exact same tweet made as a DM would not have anywhere near the pressure as what they did. The publicity itself is pressure; this is why corporate twitter accounts try to take your tweeted complaints into DMs as soon as possible.


One doesn’t elect employees of a private business. They choose not to consume media that business produces. Do you think that we should elect people to tell us what’s happening?


No, I'm saying that people generally should not use their influence with third parties to enact extrajudicial punishment. Tortious interference with contract is a bad thing.


So long as the WWW is a public network ran by private entities, essentially every decision is extrajudicial. I completely see the issue you're trying to highlight, but it seems that limiting the abilities of reporters and activists isn't healthy for democracy. If the services CloudFlare and others provide is regulated like a public utility, then standards like guaranteeing equal access regardless of ideology, or enforcing standards that have been democratically adopted. Is there a middle ground between regulation and corporate discretion in all matters of speech on that use their platform?


"Everything is political" mindset paired with viewing your opposition as evil and hopeless rather than mistaken and worthy of convincing.


I don't want to live in a world where groups openly advocating for their followers to commit hate crimes and mass murder are viewed as something less than "evil".


[flagged]


Racism/Islamaphobia aside, all you're doing here is engaging in whataboutism.

There are certain forums (e.g. child boards on 8ch) wherein groups of people openly advocate for the commission of hate crimes and murder. Most civilized persons would regard this sort of behavior as a manifestation of evil, and no private person or organization should be obligated to facilitate this behavior.


"Whataboutism" is a vacuous defense. It can be used any time an example is brought up to try to illustrate inconsistent application of rationality.

Secondly, please illustrate to me the precise statement I made that was remotely racist or Islamophobic. Personally, I consider the accusation of racism with no evidence of such a claim to be a near perfect expression of evil. While I may think that you're an absolutely detestable person for doing so, I'm not advocating that this site be taken down for your presence here.

In regards to private people or organizations being obligated to facilitate any behavior, you won't hear me making that argument. The argument I'm making is that I think it's an enormous problem that very important mechanisms in society are being targeted by a group of people who are completely irresponsible with their application of claims to objective morality (as you've perfectly demonstrated above), in various attempts to remove access to those mechanisms from the people they don't agree with.


Funny, 5 years ago Voxility kicked me off for saying mean things to people on IRC.

What exactly is supposed to have changed here? Hosting controversial content poses significant operational costs, nobody will do it for free.


Who did what for free? As far as I was aware, everyone involved was paying everyone else.

The only relationship was free was users -> 8chan website, and 8chan did do it for free..


Abuse handling isn’t free, there are providers who charge per report. I’m sure BitMitigate wasn’t paying Voxility sufficiently to deal with all the attention they chose to attract.

If you pay enough you’ll have SLAs and your host will be contractually obligated to not cut you off for hosting 8chan.

>The only relationship was free was users -> 8chan website, and 8chan did do it for free..

I’m sorry, but what the fuck are you on about? I get the feeling you don’t even understand the entities involved here.


>I’m sorry, but what the fuck are you on about

Users presumably did not pay 8chan

8chan was presumably paying cloudflare

8chan was presumably paying bitmitigate

bitmitigate was presumably paying voxility

The only part of hosting controversial content for free was the user -> 8chan relationship, which they very explicitly did for free.

Everything else was not, and if money was the problem, I don't think sudden and arbitrary cutoff was the natural result. (marking up the price seems to me the reasonable response, which would have naturally gone up the chain, perhaps to the point of 8chan charging its users [or heavier advertising]).

But this wasn't a business decision, so obviously it wouldn't be a business outcome.


Obviously this was a business decision.

Handling inquiries costs money, BitMitigate was generating lots of them. If BitMitigate had been paying enough, Voxility would be contractually obligated to keep them up.

I can’t imagine why the relationship between 8chan and its users would matter at all in this conversation.


>I can’t imagine why the relationship between 8chan and its users would matter at all in this conversation.

I was responding to "Hosting controversial content poses significant operational costs, nobody will do it for free"; no one in the story was hosting controversial content for free, except for 8chan, which was doing exactly that (at no cost to the users posting it).

Other than that relationship, I don't see anyone in this tale that would expect free hosting for controversial content.

>If BitMitigate had been paying enough, Voxility would be contractually obligated to keep them up.

Right; my point is that if this was a normal event, Voxility would have simply increased fees to match the increased costs of hosting. BitMitigate would then increase its fees, and so on. Thats just the dynamics of business.

Suddenly dropping service, and publicly promising to block all content (and I suppose reading between the lines, not rehosting even if BitMitigate ponied up), is hardly the natural monetarily-driven reaction to such an event. The SLA would have prevented this from happening suddenly... but I find it hard to not see this as a fairly unique and directed response... perhaps to a nonunique problem (was Voxility called out when Daily Stormer moved? Was it even really called out in this instance, beyond the tweet referenced in the article?)


>I don't see anyone in this tale that would expect free hosting for controversial content.

BitMitigate was presumably paying Voxility for normal hosting, not for the bulletproof hosting BM was marketing. Those are two quite different services.

It appears that BM may have expected free bulletproof hosting from Voxility. (Or maybe not, perhaps they expected to get kicked out)

If I pay you to wash my car that doesn’t mean I’m paying you to clean my house.

>Right; my point is that if this was a normal event, Voxility would have simply increased fees to match the increased costs of hosting.

Bullshit. They’d have terminated the relationship because the customer was not being upfront with them.

Besides, going “hey pay us more or you’re going offline” has a real bad vibe to it, I doubt many sane companies would want to do that.

This is completely standard practice in the hosting industry. I’ve been kicked out of tens of datacenters (including Voxility!), I know exactly how this works.


Have you considered that they're not being rejected on the basis of their beliefs, but because they're coordinating/encouraging acts of domestic terrorism on these platforms? "I hate X" is free speech, "Let's kill X at Y" is a crime.


IIRC crimes are prosecutable.


And giving a platform to them creates a legal liability.


> whats next, the ISPs?

You may wish to read your ISP's ToS, because many of them have had AUPs for years that would forbid use of some bits of 8chan.

They don't appear to use these clauses very often, but we don't know because no-one is counting.


Every company, and everyone, has the opportunity to operate politically; there's hardly anything illegal about it.

But that doesn't mean we expect them to.

Cloud infra companies and CDNs trying to filter their service offering based on its content, without government intervention, based on no "algorithm" or strategy, but instead, without any hiding of it, whatever whim realized by the CEO and his twitter feed; this is new behavior to me (that it could be done is obvious, that it would be done is not).

I mean, its not new new, this is cloudflare's second time at it; the new part is that its not just cloudflare doing it, and we went another layer deeper.


> new behavior to me

How come you seem to only have picked up on this after it started happening to nazi sites?


Yeah the politics of mass killings and racial supremacy should not be welcome anywhere, neither should platforms that somehow thrive on such content.


https://xkcd.com/1357/ applies here. I don't think it should be illegal to host sites like 8chan. However, I would be uncomfortable working for and/or paying for company X that knowingly supports/protects content I find this level of morally reprehensible. Many feel the same way, so they would lose customers and talent by keeping them on. Reputation is important. It's simply free market pressure to not support violent white supremacists.

If you don't want that to be the case, create a company that supports them. The only ones stopping you are your customers.


Manifesto-validation is a difficult task.

Somebody could automate the generation of manifestos, and leak hundreds claiming responsibility after every shooting, arguing for a variety of different positions. Then the public would have less certainly about what shooter's political intent actually was - which could lead to less politically-motivated mass shootings?

I wonder if someone has ever successfully tricked the public into believing a manufactured manifesto was written by a perpetrator, when it was actually written by someone unrelated to the incident.


In Neal Stephenson’s new novel Fall or Dodge in Hell (spoiler alert), social media becomes all powerful. A tool is created to bombard so much artificially created negative content about a person being cyber bullied, that the effect is to drown out all real condemnation, thus removing the social media collective’s power over that person.

Sounds like an effective mechanism to potentially remove mass murderer’s ability to effectively communicate their reasons or beliefs. Since effective gun control in the US is impossible, it’s going to be out of the box ideas like this that might end up actually helping (besides god forbid some real focus on mental health in this country).


What's the best way to get the ASN database?


You mean a list of ASNs with their IPs? MaxMind provides one for free: https://dev.maxmind.com/geoip/geoip2/geolite2-asn-csv-databa...


8chan was shut down in an attempt to disrupt the QAnon movement's communications.


If you want to support nazis paedophiles and mass murder you don’t get to demand other companies also support that.

Buy your own hardware rather than demand other people look after you


I agree with you! Protesters in North Koreans and Hong Kongers, too. Nobody needs to help them break the law, they should just build their own infrastructure.


They do not _demand_ others help them. They ask.

There is a difference.




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