8chan was able to get back online today despite Cloudflare cutting it off, as operators of the controversial website quickly found a new provider of CDN and DDoS protection services. But as of this writing 8chan is offline again, apparently as a result of a cloud provider cutting off 8chan’s new vendor.
Cloudflare CEO Matthew Prince announced his decision to boot 8chan yesterday, noting that a suspected terrorist gunman apparently “posted a screed to [8chan] immediately before beginning his terrifying attack on the El Paso Walmart killing 20 people.” In the past, 8chan was used similarly by perpetrators of attacks at a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand and a synagogue in Poway, California. “8chan has repeatedly proven itself to be a cesspool of hate,” Prince wrote.
But Prince noted that 8chan would likely find a new provider and get itself back online—and as predicted, 8chan quickly switched its website over a provider called BitMitigate, the same company that began serving the Daily Stormer after Cloudflare cut it off.
“All our domains have been removed from Cloudflare, so we will be moving to another service ASAP,” 8chan administrator Ron Watkins wrote on Twitter late last night.
“Expect some minutes of downtime in the coming hour as we switch over to @bitmitigate,” Watkins wrote in a subsequent post. Four hours later, Watkins wrote that “8chan is coming back online across the world as [new DNS records are] propagated.”
The resurgence was short-lived, as BitMitigate’s cloud infrastructure provider said it shut off that company’s service. When Stanford Internet Observatory Director Alex Stamos pointed out that BitMitigate primarily rents hardware from Voxility instead of using its own, Voxility’s Twitter account promised that “all content will be blocked shortly.” Voxility is an infrastructure-as-a-service provider.
“We provide services to ISPs and hosting resellers and as a telco we do not have access to websites hosted by customers of our customers,” Voxility also said. “We cannot deal with the websites directly, but we are now working on removing the reseller from the network.”
Shortly after these tweets, the 8chan, Daily Stormer, and BitMitigate websites all went offline.
BitMitigate and Daily Stormer
BitMitigate is similar to Cloudflare in that it provides protection against DDoS attacks along with a content delivery network and DNS services. But while Cloudflare has made several exceptions to its commitment to free speech, BitMitigate has been happy to provide services to any website regardless of its content.
In 2017 when Cloudflare cut off the Daily Stormer, a neo-Nazi, white-supremacist website, BitMitigate helped the site get back online.
BitMitigate founder Nicholas Lim explained the decision at the time in a post titled, “A Commitment to Liberty.” Lim wrote:
BitMitigate has decided to continue offering DDoS protection to The Daily Stormer despite our extremely contrasting beliefs in regards to the content that they produce. It is important to keep in mind that we do not endorse, create, or even host the content at The Daily Stormer but rather protect their website from being taken offline in protest via methods such as DDoS attacks. The question isn’t whether or not the content at The Daily Stormer should exist, but rather whether or not it is the responsibility of technology companies to be consistent in defending the right to freedom of expression enshrined within our constitution.
Lim later sold BitMitigate to Epik, a hosting provider with a similarly absolutist approach to free speech.
Epik last year began providing services to Gab, a self-described “free speech social network” that has attracted plenty of antisemitic users. Gab lost several of its service providers in 2018 when it turned out the suspect in a mass shooting at a synagogue in Pittsburgh was a regular Gab user.
“De-platforming a haven of free speech is not about left or right,” Epik Founder Robert Monster wrote in a November 2018 post explaining the decision to welcome Gab as a customer. Monster has been a regular Gab user since then.