The recent shutdown of 8Chan by Cloudflare Inc. was completed by taking away the heart of 8Chan’s DNS and SS. Several of the last few mass shootings including New Zealand, El Paso, and Parkland were all praised by internet trolls on 8Chan. Libertarians have a strong sense of freedom of speech and are often of the opinion that even hate speech should be protected and allowed to transpire under the 1st amendment. However, in my opinion, this is a case of when silencing the voice of hate is acceptable. I hate stating the words, “They SHOULD have been silenced”, but could it be that this is where we should have gone?
For Those That Don’t Know: What Is 8Chan?
8chan, an imageboard type website, is known for its rampant racism, anti-Semitism, and other edgy topics such as Nazism as well as being a similar site to 4Chan which was the home of Anonymous’ birth. 8Chan and 4Chan, however, share similar issues but are not made by the same people. 8Chan was supposed to be another Reddit-like website. The main problem is where they proudly promoted hate speech based on freedom of speech. To my knowledge, they never took down anything construed as hate speech. This is, therefore, 8Chan’s great mistake.
8Chan has been known for this behavior for years, so why take it down now? Well with the last several shootings, users on 8Chan were glorifying and praising the monsters who killed people at those shootings. Cloudflare was targeted by many people who knew that they gave the SSL, that proves the security of your website, and DNS, the system of how you connect to websites, to 8Chan. Therefore, the people reported 8Chan and told Cloudflare “I feel like this has to stop”. I have to agree to an extent.
Where Will This Action Send Us?
Sometimes the right actions send us down the wrong turns. This time I feel like there might be a purge of freedom of speech on some platforms. Although not unconstitutional, is still not right. And although the first amendment allows freedom of speech, these platforms still have the right to remove them, as they are private property. Was Cloudflare in the right? From a business standpoint in the modern-day, yes. From a Freedom and Libertarian standpoint, hard to say. On one hand, it is complete censorship because of a few bad apples, on the other, it is harmful because it is enabling these monsters and giving them a better willingness to kill because they think they have supporters.
This kind of censorship, although possibly necessary, is the first step towards controlling us and our thoughts. The internet is slowly being censored by the public and by the government. Freedom of speech will be the first thing to go for a full authoritarian government. Then we could lose the right to spend money how we see fit and view and share content because of even a harsher set of copyright laws. With the government being led by two differently socialist and fascist-like parties, there is no knowing what the next step will be. All we know is that it is a dark path towards the end of our freedoms.
Could Cloudflare Have Done Better?
Yes, they could have. Cloudflare has the ability to pressure websites like this into complying, without taking the freedoms or security of the people on 8Chan. Rules and laws that protect the individual and his or her property are a generally good thing. Laws to prevent glorifying monsters like the shooters at these events could prevent this from spreading. Sadly, this was not the course of action taken and this course of action might speed up the process of us losing our freedoms. The answer is never more government instead, we have to work together as communities to prevent the spread of the far-left and far-right problems and authoritarianism. We are the answer, not the government.