In light of the recent El Paso shooting that killed 20 people; authorities, the media and the public have been questioning the motives of the shooter.
It has been discovered that the shooter behind the massacre was a heavy user of the infamous free-speech platform 8chan.
If this website rings a bell, it’s because it is the edgier and more offensive big brother to 4chan. Since 4chan, described as a “simple image-based bulletin board where anyone can post comments and share images anonymously”, was beginning to tighten its loose policies regarding its ‘anything-goes’ guidelines, the most offensive and dangerous of its users began to scurry elsewhere to express their misogynistic and xenophobic opinions.
These users, who were predominantly from the gaming community, GamerGate, which was known for its anti-feminist ideals, made 8chan their saving grace. If 4chan had a loose grasp on speech restrictions, 8chan had no hold on it whatsoever. According to SplinterNews.com, “It became the new digital home for some of the most offensive people on the internet, people who really believe in white-supremacy and the inferiority of women.”
Its creator, Fredrick Brennan, who created the platform whilst on psychedelic mushrooms, has now regretted his creation because it has spawned the three most notorious recent mass shootings including the El Paso shooting, Christchurch massacre and the killing at Poway.
Another 8chan shooting? Fuck me. Am I ever going to be able to move on with my life? Fuck you Jim Watkins. It will never make money, just do the world a favor and shut it off like you autistically threatened to do many times when I still gave a fuck
— Fredrick Brennan (@HW_BEAT_THAT) August 4, 2019
Due to this development, he has urged the new owner of the platform, Jim Watkins, to close the site permanently. However, Watkins has refused on numerous occasions, stating that he sees no harm in the way the users express their thoughts. Brennan, distraught by Watkins’ decision said,
“I’ve tried to understand so many times why he keeps it going, and I just don’t get it. After Christchurch, after the Tree of Life shooting, and now after this shooting, they think this is all really funny.”
As for Watkins, he defended the white supremacists on the platform by saying,
“As long as they are not making imminent threats of harm against someone, their speech is protected political speech, no different than Trump or Clinton or Mr. Smith or anyone else.”
It’s apparent that we can’t expect sensitivity from the acclaimed ‘king of porn’ who rose from his grimy basement into making fetishsized Asian porn with the website “The Asian Bikini Bar”.
Even after Google had stopped indexing 8chan in its search results in 2015, the platform was still sought after and remained rampant with abysmal racist propaganda. As a final measure, Cloudflare, an online infrastructure service that helps websites mitigate DDoS attacks, has stepped up to the plate to revoke 8chan’s services completely. Michael Prince, co-founder and CEO of Cloudflare, stated that while the action will stop hate from festering on 8chan, the existence of discrimination and hatefulness still remains and that the Internet must come together to help eradicate this situation for good.
As of now, 8chan has been shut down completely by Cloudflare but this situation has begged the dire question: Where is the line that dichotomises free speech and hate speech and how do we know once we’ve crossed it?
Is 8chan really the monster of this story or is it us, those who enable its existence, the true culprits?
For more news, click here.