Behind the Scenes, 8chan Scrambles to Get Back Online

Ronald Watkins, an administrator for 8chan, said on Twitter on Monday afternoon that he would wait to see if BitMitigate would be able to restore its services. If not, 8chan would try to get online again anyway, he wrote. Mr. Watkins is the son of Jim Watkins, the owner of 8chan. As of 6 p.m., the message board remained offline.

Rob Monster, the chief executive of Epik, said in an email that he had not solicited 8chan’s business and had not decided whether to keep the site as a customer.

“Our services fill the ever growing need for a neutral service provider that will not arbitrarily terminate accounts based on social or political pressure,” he said. “Our philosophy is, if the customer is not breaking the law, providers of technology should apply discernment in determining whether or not to service.”

At Voxility, Maria Sirbu, the vice president of business development, said it would not work with Epik or BitMitigate again even if those companies ended their relationships with 8chan. “We’re totally against hate speech,” she said. “We are free to terminate the service as we like.”

The internet infrastructure companies have distanced themselves from toxic websites before. In 2017, The Daily Stormer, a neo-Nazi forum, was booted off Cloudflare after the site mocked Heather Heyer, a woman who was killed during a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va.

The Daily Stormer initially struggled to find companies that would provide the infrastructure it needed to remain online. BitMitigate, which says its services come with “a proven commitment to liberty,” and Epik eventually stepped in to protect it. The Daily Stormer now uses dark web services and overseas hosting providers to stay afloat. But it went offline on Monday after Voxility terminated its business with Epik.

8chan is in an even more delicate position than The Daily Stormer because it appears to help mass killers by providing them with a place to air and spread their violent and often racist messages. Other recent shootings — including at mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, and at a synagogue in Poway, Calif. — were all announced on 8chan before they began. Over the weekend, even one of 8chan’s own founders, Fredrick Brennan, disavowed the online message board, saying, “Shut the site down.”

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