The website known as 8chan has served as a cesspool of bigoted and racist hate mongering for a long time in which posters seemed to be competing to see who could come up with the most offensive stuff, all while arguing that they were doing it ironically, ‘for the lulz’ as the kids say these days. They operated with impunity under the shield of free speech and things were going well for them (in terms of reaching their target audience) until three mass shooters in Christchurch (targeting Muslims), Poway, California (targeting Jews), and at a Texas Walmart (targeting Hispanics) posted their hateful manifestos on the website.
This proved to be too much for those companies that had been at least indirectly supporting the site and the internet security firm Cloudflare withdrew its support, thus enabling hackers to invade the site, overwhelm it, and shut it down. The creator of 8chan, an American who lives in the Philippines and seems to covet notoriety, vows to bring the site back in some form with a new name 8kun and different security firm backing it.
The NPR radio program On the Media had a fascinating 17-minute segment tying together 8chan, the people behind it, as well as Q and the QAnon conspiracy theories that spread its message via that site, and the problem of balancing free speech and deplatforming on the internet.
It raises some crucial questions: should tech companies stymie sites like 8chan? Can 8chan stay dead? And what happens to the dark content that flourished on the site — content like the QAnon conspiracy, whose purveyor vowed to only release definitive content on 8chan, lest his narrative gets drowned out by that of impersonators?