Some thoughts, somewhat unstructured, about Cloudflare’s decision to remove 8chan from their server.
1.) It seems like the decision will have no real impact, as 8chan is already in the process of working with a new host and seems like it will be back online soon. Cloudflare would have surely known this when they made the decision.
2.) Despite the praise given to Cloudflare I am heavily skeptical of their motives. Companies don’t make these decisions out of the goodness of their own heart, but because of profit motives. This was a decision based on the company’s reputation following real political pressure.
3.) If, and when, 8chan does get back online there is a real risk the space will become more radical. Many within these spaces feel as though they are outsiders who are constantly under attack. This decision will only enhance that feeling (and even bring more into the fold).
4.) While there has been discussion about banning 8chan outright, I think this is likely impossible and certainly not desirable. While I am comfortable with Governments regulating discussions that are about the specific planning of attacks, I am not comfortable with them banning entire platforms.
5.) We have to be careful to not be technologically determistic, entirely focusing on the platform culture of 8chan. Of course it plays a role, but I don’t think 8chan creates mass shooters. There are other social processes at play that a focus on technology can quickly ignore.
6.) This does not mean however we should ignore social media altogether. The evidence does suggest it has an influence in shaping radical ideas. But it does so in conjunction with other social processes. We have to think about them together.