8chan became known for promoting online hate and extremism, including during mass shootings. This year, the platform was used to announce deadly attacks at mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand; a synagogue in Poway, Calif., and a Walmart in El Paso. It has also been widely condemned for fueling the spread of such violence. In March, as the New Zealand gunman live-streamed his rampage on Facebook, fewer than 200 people watched before the social media site took it down. But 8chan, where the gunman had announced his “attack against the invaders” with a link to the live footage, allowed the grisly footage to reach millions.
Suspected attackers have sometimes posted manifestos to 8chan’s /pol/ sub-forum. On Sunday night, Gizmodo reported that the /pol/ sub-forum was missing from 8kun.
In August, a largely unknown British-based provider of server hardware booted 8chan offline. The move also knocked off Daily Stormer, a neo-Nazi site that defied takedown efforts since the 2017 Charlottesville white-supremacist demonstration.
“We took a clear pledge in making the Internet a safer place for all, and we would continue to cut entire infrastructure for any party we identify as facilitating mass shootings and extreme hate speech with intolerable consequences,” Maria Sirbu, an executive at Voxility, the tech firm that blocked 8chan from the computer servers that powered the site, said at the time.
In September, Jim Watkins defended the site as a beacon of free speech. Watkins was subpoenaed by the House Homeland Security Committee and said in prepared statements for congressional staff that 8chan was where “down-home recipes are traded (and) sorrows lifted.”
Drew Harwell contributed to this report