Cloudflare has announced that following the false reports that 8chan radicalized the El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio shooters, they are terminating their services for 8chan. The media bombarded the security and internet support outfit with requests for termination of its service for 8chan, and after some cajoling, they conceded.
The news broke when the New York Times columnist Kevin Roose posted about via a Twitter thread on August 4th, 2019.
There are other DDOS protection services, so this doesn’t mean 8chan is going offline for good. But the ban, which kicks in at midnight tonight, will make it harder to keep the site online in the short term.
— Kevin Roose (@kevinroose) August 5, 2019
There’s a big, interesting debate here about which layers of the internet should be responsible for banning extreme content. Everyone (mostly) agrees ISPs like Comcast shouldn’t. Everyone (mostly) agrees social networks like Facebook should. Cloudflare is somewhere in the middle.
— Kevin Roose (@kevinroose) August 5, 2019
Cloudflare CEO Matthew Prince followed that up with a blog post over on the Cloudflare website, where he wrote…
“The El Paso shooter specifically referenced the Christchurch incident and appears to have been inspired by the largely unmoderated discussions on 8chan which glorified the previous massacre. In a separate tragedy, the suspected killer in the Poway, California synagogue shooting also posted a hate-filled “open letter” on 8chan. 8chan has repeatedly proven itself to be a cesspool of hate.
“8chan is among the more than 19 million Internet properties that use Cloudflare’s service. We just sent notice that we are terminating 8chan as a customer effective at midnight tonight Pacific Time. The rationale is simple: they have proven themselves to be lawless and that lawlessness has caused multiple tragic deaths. Even if 8chan may not have violated the letter of the law in refusing to moderate their hate-filled community, they have created an environment that revels in violating its spirit.”
Prince’s misinformed screed aimed at 8chan was spawned from misinformation being spread around by mainstream news outlets, such as the report from MSNBC, which attempted to place the blame squarely at the feet of 8chan, as if the site radicalized the shooter.
If you actually check the threads where the shooter posted his manifesto, he was being abjectly told by the visitors of /pol/ to leave the board and “fedpost” elsewhere.
For those of you who don’t know what “fedposting” is, it’s when an FBI agent posts in a comment section looking to out other people for saying something that could incriminate them. FBI agents were caught fedposting in 8chan before when the Synagogue shooting took place.
Screenshots from the thread basically show how the residents reacted to his presence.
Prince goes on to twaddle about being a content arbiter, while also wholesale dismissing the reasons why “hate” festers online, writing…
“[…] While removing 8chan from our network takes heat off of us, it does nothing to address why hateful sites fester online. It does nothing to address why mass shootings occur. It does nothing to address why portions of the population feel so disenchanted they turn to hate. In taking this action we’ve solved our own problem, but we haven’t solved the Internet’s.”
Censorship certainly isn’t a remedy to a problem big tech like Cloudflare keeps escalating by creating division and discord.
Then again, even if it wasn’t the tech companies behind the tools people use everyday in their online activities, there’s still the problem with the propaganda being pushed by the media.
For instance, Business Insider is reporting that Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick decided to take aim at violent video games, which has been a typical go-to villain for many Republicans, just like last year when they blamed video games for the Parkland shooting.
In this particular case, Patrick spent nine minutes deriding electronic entertainment during a Fox & Friends segment, saying…
“And I say, how long are we gonna let and ignore the fact that at the federal level particularly, where they can do something about the video game industry?
“In this manifesto – that we believe is from the shooter – this manifesto, he talks about living out his super soldier fantasy on Call of Duty. We know that it’s bigger than the movie industry and the music industry combined. And there have been studies that say [games] impact people and studies that say [they] do not. But I look at the common denominators, as a sixty-something father and grandfather myself, what’s changed in this country?
“We’ve always had guns, we’ve always had evil, but what’s changed where we see this rash of shooting?
“And I see a video game industry that teaches young people to kill.”
Actually… youth crimes are down.
This is despite publishers releasing even more games now than ever before. In fact, Activision rolls out annual Call of Duty games each year, with the latest game in the series set to launch on October 25th, 2019 for the Xbox One, PS4 and PC. They’re already taking pre-orders for the first-person shooter over on the official website, and recently previewed four-and-a-half hours of the new multiplayer features set to debut in this year’s outing, which you can check out below.
As you can see, there’s nothing there that would force someone to become a mass killer, since the game doesn’t look anywhere near as realistic as Arma 3, and it lacks the gun-handling mechanics of virtual reality simulators such as Zero Caliber VR for the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift. So it’s not like you could use it for real weapons training.
What’s more is that the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention statistics show that youth crimes have been dropping rapidly over the years; arrests are down, robberies are down, and murders are down compared to the 1980s and 1990s. Black youths still commit the most crimes and are arrested the most, but it’s still down compared to before the explosion of video game culture in mainstream society.
You can read the general OJJDP report and check the statistics for yourself, particularly on page 9, which shows the rate of arrests and crimes that have been going down over the years, especially during the rise of violent video game sales. While the correlation may not tie into the causation, we at least know for a fact that the prevalence of violent video games is not increasing youth crimes compared to decades ago, which ties into other recent studies showing that violent games don’t increase violence in kids, or that peer pressure, poor parenting, and a subculture that encourages real-world violence has more of an effect on a child’s growth than video games or movies, as noted in a K.M Fikkers thesis published by the University of Amsterdam.
Nevertheless, you’ll never any of the OJJDP reports mentioned or cited in mainstream media talking points or propaganda campaigns used to smear the gaming industry, such as AOL’s report on Dan Patrick’s diatribe, where they don’t even bother to offer links or citations to counter some of Patrick’s claims.
Evan Urquhart from Slate also took the opportunity to blame #GamerGate for the shootings. Yes, they’re digging up old boogeymen like grave robbers digging up a decrepit millionaire in hopes of striking it rich, only to find worms and fetid decay in the coffin.
The article is titled “The Real Connection Between Video Games and Mass Shootings. It’s Gamergate” and rehashes old tales about “harassment” and “misogyny” being attached to the movement, even though those claims were debunked by a WAM! Report and by an FBI investigation, both which turned up null results in relation to the claims by the media that #GamerGate was a harassment campaign.
Even still, Urquhart writes…
“In other words, Republicans are right that there’s a strong connection between video games and the toxic environments that are radicalizing the young men who commit mass shootings. But the link isn’t the games themselves. It’s Gamergate.”
Given that we live in a world where memes can get you thrown in jail and “manholes” are considered offensive, I honestly wouldn’t be surprised at this point if our misaligned and out-of-touch politicians began targeting #GamerGate again, in addition to shutting down more free speech avenues, since they clearly hate a populace having access to any kind of freedom at all.
(Thanks for the news tips Ennis, Lyle, Ebicentre and Quickshooter)