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Cloudflare CEO Matthew Prince is defending his decision to pull the plug on the controversial website used by the El Paso shooting suspect.
The company, which provides security software and other services to websites that help them stay online, announced in a blog post Sunday night that it was terminating services to 8chan after the suspected gunman in the El Paso shooting appeared to use it to post an anti-immigrant and anti-government screed. The shooting on Saturday left at least 20 people dead and another 26 wounded. Cloudflare initially said on Sunday that it would not cut off 8chan.
Since announcing the move to cut off 8chan, the U.S. cybersecurity company has faced criticism from some who say it is wrongfully policing the internet.
“If you are on Twitter right now, all of the 8chan supporters are saying ‘Why don’t you cut off Facebook or Twitter because there are horrible things that get posted to them?’ That’s true, there are horrible things that get posted to them,” Prince said in an interview with Ben Thompson, an independent analyst who runs Stratechery.
Unlike 8chan, social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter “aren’t lawless platforms,” Prince said, citing the companies’ global moderation teams and policies around hate speech.
“If you don’t have that, then you do fall into a different bucket,” Prince said. “That was the rationale that we came to.”
8chan demonstrated that it’s “truly lawless,” by not responding to abuse complaints and ultimately “directly inspired” three mass shootings, he added, referring to the attacks in El Paso, Christchurch, New Zealand and at the Chabad of Poway synagogue in Poway, California.
“While we think it’s really important that we are not the ones being the arbiter of what is good or bad, if at the end of the day content platforms aren’t taking any responsibility, or in some cases actively thwarting it, and we see that there is real harm that those platforms are doing, then maybe that is the time that we cut people off,” Prince said.
Cloudflare has previously cut off service to websites promoting hateful content. In 2017, the company terminated service with website the Daily Stormer in the wake of the deadly Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, which left three people dead.
Social media platforms have recently announced sweeping measures to beat back hate speech and other content that violate their policies. Earlier this year, Facebook and Google-owned YouTube began removing content promoting supremacist content.