SACRAMENTO — Tragedy hit a Jewish temple in Poway, California, two mosques in New Zealand and this past weekend, a Walmart in El Paso, Texas.
The three mass shooters behind the attacks were all frequent contributors on 8chan, an online message board where white supremacist ideologies have found a home. All of them posted manifestos there shortly before their shootings.
“That’s the really scary part is they don’t operate in the shadows. They’re out in the open,” said domestic terrorism expert and professor David Zuckerman.
Professor Zuckerman researches how domestic and foreign terrorists become radicalized. He said sites like 8chan have thousands of visitors.
It’s nearly impossible to tell which ones simply share messages of hate and which ones might act on that hate.
“They might be socially isolated. They tend to take things, global things, very, very personally. So, it’s not ‘what happened to our nation’ but ‘what happened to me,’” he told FOX40.
The company Cloudflare, which hosts 8chan, decided to ban the platform Sunday. They sent FOX40 a statement that says in part:
The rationale is simple: They have proven themselves to be lawless and that lawlessness has caused multiple tragic deaths.
“Companies themselves have good reasons for regulating the way their own platforms are used,” said constitutional law professor John Sims.
Sims said while online outlets can self-regulate, the government is not likely to ban sites like 8chan.
Despite evidence that multiple mass shooters may have been inspired while on the sites, the First Amendment heavily protects all speech, even the worst kinds of hate speech.
Sims told FOX40 the Federal Communications Commission “has no interest in getting involved” in the politics surrounding First Amendment rights and hate speech.
Even if sites like 8chan do get banned, Zuckerman said the ideology that fuels them does not go away. He said there will always be another platform for hate to take its place.
“It’s sort of like cockroaches: When you see one, you’ve got a lot more than one,” he said.
The original founder called for 8chan to be banned after the deadly weekend.