8chan Founder Wants Site Shut Down After Mass Shootings

JOEL ANGEL JUAREZ/AFP/Getty Images
The scene after the shooting in El Paso

"It's not doing the world any good. It's a complete negative to everybody except the users that are there. And you know what? It's a negative to them, too. They just don't realize it."

Fredrick Brennan, the founder of 8chan, wants the site to be shut down following the mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, that resulted in 29 deaths.

Saturday's shooting in El Paso left 20 dead and more than two dozen wounded, while the one in Dayton hours later left nine dead and at least 26 others injured. And Brennan, who founded the online message board six years ago, told The New York Times that anytime he hears about a mass shooting, his first instinct is to "research if there's an 8chan connection."

And in the case of the El Paso shooting, he said, he found one in a four-page message posted by someone claiming to be the gunman. It wasn't the first case of extreme violence to be linked to 8chan: the mosque killings in Christchurch, New Zealand, and the synagogue shooting in Poway, Calif., also were announced on the site ahead of the shootings. In each case, the writings included racist language.

As a result, Brennan wants the site — he founded it in 2013 as a haven for free speech but relinquished control to U.S. Army veteran Jim Watkins in 2015 — to be shuttered.

"Shut the site down," Brennan told The New York Times. "It's not doing the world any good. It's a complete negative to everybody except the users that are there. And you know what? It's a negative to them, too. They just don't realize it."

Brennan also took his comments to Twitter:

Brennan founded 8chan as a response to 4chan, which he felt had become too restrictive, as a place that supported free speech of any kind.

"I've tried to understand so many times why he keeps it going, and I just don't get it," Brennan said. "After Christchurch, after the Tree of Life shooting, and now after this shooting, they think this is all really funny."

According to an update on the Times story, one of 8chan's service providers, Cloudflare, is banning the site from its network.

On Monday, another internet services company, Voxility, said it also was severing ties with 8chan, NBC News reported, noting that 8chan experienced intermittent outages after Cloudflare cut off its service to the site. But 8chan continued to operate in the early hours of Monday morning thanks to a deal with another service provider, Bitmitigate, according to NBC News. Yet around 9:30 a.m. PT, 8chan appeared to be completely offline; visitors to the site were greeted with this message: "This site can’t be reached. 8ch.net’s server IP address could not be found."

For his part, Watkins, who runs the site with son Ronald, did not respond to multiple requests for comment from the NYT over the weekend.

On Saturday, a gunman entered a shopping area in El Paso that was packed with thousands of people and began shooting. Police have identified the El Paso suspect as 21-year-old Patrick Crusius from Allen, a Dallas suburb that is a nearly 10-hour drive from El Paso.

Hours later in Dayton, a gunman wearing body armor and carrying extra magazines opened fire in a popular nightlife area, killing nine and injuring at least 26 people.

Video released by police shows 24-year-old Connor Betts being shot down by officers, just steps away from entering a bar filled with hiding patrons. Betts' 22-year-old sister, Megan Betts, was among those killed in Dayton.

The El Paso shooting was being investigated as a possible hate crime as authorities worked to confirm whether a racist, anti-immigrant screed posted online shortly beforehand was written by the man arrested. The border city is home to 680,000 people, many of them Latino.

Said Brennan of 8chan: "Shutting it down, having these chan sites pushed underground, it wouldn't totally stop these kinds of things from happening. But it wouldn't happen every few months."

Updated 6:47 p.m. Aug. 4: Added news that Cloudflare is banning 8chan.

Updated 9:34 a.m. Aug. 5: Added news that Voxility is dropping 8chan from its service.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.