Hours after a web security and network provider cut off 8chan, a controversial far-right online forum linked to white supremacy, the website’s new provider is facing repercussions. The suspected terrorist who shot and killed 22, and injured 24 more in an El Paso, Texas Walmart, allegedly posted a hate-filled screed to 8chan before his attack Saturday.
An 8chan administrator announced early Monday that it would be relaunching the site using the Canadian cybersecurity company BitMitigate as a replacement for the online services firm Cloudflare. 8chan was temporarily shut down Sunday night, after Cloudflare announced it would no longer support the controversial site.
BitMitigate was previously selected by another far-right hate site, the Daily Stormer, after Cloudflare discontinued that site’s services in 2017. In February, BitMitigate was purchased by Epik, a Washington State-based company that gained notoriety in November 2018 after it agreed to provide services to Gab, a social media site associated with far-right ideologies that lost its hosting provider after an avid poster on the site killed 11 people in a Pittsburgh synagogue.
In announcing the decision to cut ties with 8chan, Cloudflare CEO Matthew Prince called the site “a cesspool of hate.”
Four hours after the Cloudflare decision was first announced Sunday, Epik CEO Rob Monster posted on Gab that BitMitigate could be an alternative option for 8chan.
About one hour later, 8chan administrator Ron Watkins posted to Twitter that the site was switching to BitMitigate. By early Monday morning, Watkins tweeted that 8chan was restored throughout much of the world.
But soon after, Epik ran into trouble of its own that may have ultimately caused 8chan to stop operating once again. On Monday morning, Stanford University researcher and former Facebook Chief Security Officer Alex Stamos pointed out that some of Epik’s servers are rented from another company. Soon after Stamos tweeted, that company, Voxility, cut off Epik.
Voxility’s Vice President of Business Development, Maria Sirbu, said in a phone call with CBS News that the company tries to “keep (its) network clean.”
“At this point, the entire network that supported the 8chan website is completely banned from Voxility,” Sirbu said, adding that Voxility’s decision affected not just 8chan, but all Epik and BitMitigate services associated with Voxility’s servers:
“This company is no longer using our services. We are not a fan of hate speech and this is against our policy.”
About an hour later, Watkins tweeted that issues with BitMitigate had caused 8chan to go dark once again.
In a statement to CBS News, Epik said its “services fill the ever-growing need for a neutral service provider that will not arbitrarily terminate accounts based on social or political pressure.”
“Specific to any of the ‘Chan’ sites, Epik did not solicit this business. We have also not made a definitive decision about whether to provide DDoS mitigation or Content Delivery services for them. We will evaluate this in the coming days,” the company said.