This morning’s Observer column:
Sites that host extremist content are themselves vulnerable to distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks. Anyone can go to the murkier regions of the internet and rent a botnet that will then overwhelm the target site with millions of pings. Easy as pie. And DDoS can be turned on and off like a tap. So if you run a controversial site you need protection against that kind of thing.
For 8chan, that protection was provided by Cloudflare, a service with the resources to ensure that sites can remain online no matter how severe a DDoS attack is. But on Monday, Matthew Prince, Cloudflare’s CEO, pulled the plug. He announced that the company was terminating 8chan as a customer.
“The rationale is simple,” he wrote on the company’s blog. “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 clearly agonised over the decision, not because he was sympathetic to 8chan, but because he found himself wielding a kind of power that corporate executives are not prepared for…