The difficulties of taking down extremism
Image board 8chan plays host to some reprehensible opinions. The site first rose to prominence during Gamergate, as proponents of that harassment movement found 4chan was cracking down on their behaviour and they needed a new home.
Since then, 8chan has fostered young men of a white supremacist, terrorist bent. The Christchurch killer earlier this year pre-announced his deeds there and praised what he had learned from others in the 8chan community. It appears this weekend’s El Paso killer had a similar story.
1: 8chan’s /pol board continues to deliberately radicalize mass shooters.
2: The act of massacring innocents has been gamified.
The article concludes:
“Until law enforcement, and the media, treat these shooters as part of a terrorist movement no less organized, or deadly, than ISIS or Al Qaeda, the violence will continue. There will be more killers, more gleeful celebration of body counts on 8chan, and more bloody attempts to beat the last killer’s ‘high score’.”
Over the weekend, many have called for 8chan to be banned, or at least taken down. One easy move, Cloudflare dropping 8chan as a customer, finally happened in the last few hours. But the fact that 8chan is now simply moving to another security firm — one that is happy to support far-right extremists — shows that Cloudflare’s move did more for its reputation than it did to stop any more shootings occurring.
Even if 8chan was somehow banned and wiped from the internet, its community would move somewhere else, as this BuzzFeed News piece explains
. It notes that many of the far-right personalities kicked off other social media platforms are currently thriving on messaging app Telegram. Kick them off there, they’ll move elsewhere.
The problem is a culture that allows young, white men to foster a sense of anger at the world that leads them to write a manifesto, load up some weapons and commit an atrocity. Playing whack-a-mole with websites might help temporarily, and it might make us feel like we’re doing something, but it won’t solve the real problem.