8chan goes offline again after companies sever ties following mass shooting

Fringe social networking website 8chan went dark on Monday afternoon after multiple web services severed ties with the platform over its links to the mass shooting in El Paso, Texas, over the weekend.

8chan, which critics have called a breeding ground for white extremism, first went offline early Monday morning after web security firm Cloudflare cut ties with the website.

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While it came back online briefly, its service was cut off again by the afternoon after two other firms critical to its web infrastructure dropped 8chan as a client.

8chan administrator Ron Watkins confirmed the website had gone down around 1 p.m.

The series of hits comes after the 21-year-old suspect in the El Paso shooting allegedly posted an anti-immigrant manifesto to 8chan before opening fire in a Walmart near the U.S.-Mexico border, killing 22 and injuring dozens of others.

The attack marked the third time this year a mass shooter is believed to have posted a violent, bigoted manifesto on 8chan before committing murder.

It will be an uphill battle for 8chan to stay online after Voxility, the company that owns the servers used by its new web infrastructure security firm, pulled back their support.  

Watkins earlier in the day announced that it would be migrating its services to BitMitigate, a web security company owned by Epik.

Epik is known for offering its support to platforms that host neo-Nazis and white supremacist content, such as Gab, a social networking service that was implicated in another mass shooting this year.

Epik CEO in a statement said the company did not solicit 8chan's business and will be "evaluating" whether to provide support to them.

But the forum faced another bump later in the day. BitMitigate relies on a separate company — Voxility — in order to function. After discovering BitMitigate had taken on 8chan as a client, Voxility announced that it would be cutting ties with the company, leaving 8chan without web protection again.

"Going to give bitmitigate some time to find a solution for their peering problem," Watkins tweeted. "If we are still down in a few hours then maybe 8chan will just go clearnet and we can brave DDOS attacks like Ishmael on the Pequod," he said, referring to the form of cyberattacks that services like BitMitigate protect websites against.

The mass shooting in El Paso has reignited questions over whether 8chan, which brands itself as the "darkest reaches of the Internet," should be allowed to stay online.

Even if 8chan is forced to go dark, similar fringe sites such as 4chan, Gab and some Reddit forums could still host hateful and extremist content.

— This report was updated at 3:10 p.m.