New Zealand bans far-right website 8Chan because of white supremacist content

After the El Paso mass shooter was found to be praising the tragic Christchurch attack that killed dozens of people, one of New Zealand’s largest telecommunications providers “Spark” has banned the website 8chan where both killers uploaded a hateful “manifesto.”

8Chan

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In a move that is being hailed as timely and brave, Spark banned the website 8chan which is known to be a hotbed for white supremacists and far-right ideologues across the west. New Zealand’s Chief Censor David Shanks extended his support to any service providers that chose to make this choice. He termed the initiative by Spark as “brave and meaningful” as he called the controversial message board “the white supremacist killer’s platform of choice.”

Like the shooting at the Chabad of Poway synagogue in San Diego that killed a 60-year old woman and injured 3 others, the Christchurch shooting also had the shooter post a manifesto and hateful speech on 8chan before committing the crime. This makes the El Paso shooter the third known shooter that used 8chan as a platform to declare his intentions and come into contact with other extreme minds.

Spark’s statement read: “we’ve taken a consistent view that the appropriate agencies of government should put in place a robust policy framework to address the important issues surrounding such material being distributed online and freely available. We don’t make these decisions lightly and want to work with Government, the wider industry and civil society organizations to make the internet a better place for New Zealanders.”

In such an environment, the discriminatory views that fester within the minds of these people often manifest themselves on these forums in a much uglier form than they otherwise would.

On August 5th, the online hate forum went temporarily dark as Voxility, a company on whose rented servers the site would run, decide to cut ties with it and ban it alongside with the company “Epik” that hosts 8chan.

https://twitter.com/kevinroose/status/1158189348073988099?s=20

Online Message Boards as Hotbeds of Hate

The impression given of this website is similar in nature to websites like 4chan and Reddit, that are known for being spaces where disillusioned male youth across Europe and North America congregate with secret social media accounts with fake names to spew hate. The content frequently includes anti-Semitic, anti-immigrant, anti-Islam and pro-white messages, videos and memes. There is frequent fearmongering rhetoric about Europe being “invaded” and Islamised, and violent retaliatory fantasies are recorded on the message boards in morbid detail.

Read more: New Zealand massacre provides test for live video platforms

Users are aware that in an era of institutionalized political correctness in the western world, people being threatened, harassed or even axed from their jobs for expressing “alt-right” views is not an uncommon phenomenon. In such an environment, the discriminatory views that fester within the minds of these people often manifest themselves on these forums in a much uglier form than they otherwise would. The worst-case scenario is the violent manifestation that comes in the form of real shooters whose actions claim real lives. The founder of 8chan himself called the site a “refuge for terrorists in plain sight.”

4chan is a site that was the spiritual predecessor to 8chan, as most of the users that now populate 8chan are those who migrated from 4chan after moderators there began a serious campaign to permanently IP-ban users who posted illegal and disturbing content. The kind of content in this white supremacist rabbit-hole has only been pushed further to the extreme right. Such sites often hold discussions that praise mass shooters like Dylann Roof of the Charleston Church shooting who killed 9 in a racially-motivated killing spree at a predominantly Black church.

The shooting in Christchurch that inspired Crusius was an attack by a 28-year old Australian man, Brenton Tarrant, who killed 51 people and injured 49 when he shot up two mosques during Friday prayers on the 15th of March.

Apart from racists and political extremists, another type of violent character that emerged on these boards was the “Incel”, a portmanteau of “Involuntary Celebrate.” Incels are a community of mostly misogynistic and misanthropic young men who loathe women and society at large for supposedly depriving them of intimacy and romantic companionship which they feel entitled to. This perverse idea has resulted in at least 4 mass murders and 45 deaths in outbursts of frustration experienced by its adherents. This amplifies the epidemic of loneliness that plagues those users who compete for attention from strangers on online message boards as they often live isolated existences in real life. This deadly subculture also first came into being online and has become a mind-boggling reality.

The El Paso and Christchurch Mass Shootings

A mass shooting was carried out by 21-year-old Patrick Wood Crusius, a white supremacist who killed 22 people and injured 24 others at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas. The act is currently under investigation as a case of domestic terrorism. The individual was a frequent participant in online message board discussions and even posted a manifesto of hate before he committed the heinous crime which expressed admiration for the Christchurch shooter in New Zealand for killing so many Muslim immigrants.

Read more: Christchurch mosque shootings must end New Zealand’s innocence about right-wing terrorism

The shooting in Christchurch that inspired Crusius was an attack by a 28-year old Australian man, Brenton Tarrant, who killed 51 people and injured 49 when he shot up two mosques during Friday prayers on the 15th of March. Muslims around the world held vigils and prayers of solidarity and support for the victims. The attack was live-streamed online by the shooter. The markings on his guns revealed important dates of crusades and moments of historic tension between Christians and Muslims. Tarrant published a detailed manifesto of hate on 8chan as well.

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