After network service provider Cloudflare cut ties with controversial forum site 8chan in the wake of the El Paso shooting, 8chan announced it was moving to a lesser-known content distribution network called BitMitigate.
Expect some minutes of downtime in the coming hour as we switch over to @bitmitigate.
— Ron (@CodeMonkeyZ) August 5, 2019
“The rationale is simple: they have proven themselves to be lawless and that lawlessness has caused multiple tragic deaths,” wrote Cloudflare CEO Matthew Prince, after the El Paso shooter became just the latest right-wing terrorist to apparently post a manifesto to the site before launching a deadly attack. “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.”
Like Cloudflare, BitMitigate helps customers speedily deliver web content to users around the world while protecting them from distributed denial of service attacks, an often-crucial need for controversial websites. But unlike Cloudflare, which has over time refused to work with some sites promoting or hosting hate speech including the white nationalist site The Daily Stormer and now 8chan, BitMitigate and its parent Epik have welcomed such sites, citing free speech.
“De-platforming is digital censorship,” wrote Epik founder and CEO Robert Monster last year, when the company agreed to provide services to Gab, a Twitter-like social network often associated with right-wing extremism, after it was dropped by GoDaddy. “Blacklisting is digital shunning.”
Epik acquired BitMitigate earlier this year, announcing its founder Nicholas Lim would become Epik’s CTO and stay on as BitMitigate’s president. BitMitigate already had a similar philosophy to Epik, agreeing to host The Daily Stormer after it was dropped by Cloudflare. “People should be given the right to express their ideas,” Lim told ProPublica in 2017.
BitMitigate didn’t respond to an inquiry from Fast Company.
As of Monday morning, the websites for 8chan and BitMitigate were only sporadically reachable amid reports that BitMitigate’s own infrastructure provider had taken steps to disconnect the company from the web.
UPDATE: Looks like @voxility just cut off all of Bitmitigate’s prefix at their edge routers, shutting down not only their customers but Epik’s corporate systems.
— Alex Stamos (@alexstamos) August 5, 2019