8chan's link to El Paso shooting draws outrage as Trump denounces extremists

President Trump on Monday denounced white supremacy and called for new laws regarding mental health. Trump also pointed to the rise in violent video games, the "dark recesses" of social media and the internet radicalizing the gunmen in recent mass shootings.

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The response came as law enforcement in El Paso, Texas confirmed the death toll in the Walmart massacre rose to 22 as another victim succumbed to injuries.

The mass shootings in Texas and Ohio over the weekend drew attention to an anonymous online forum called 8chan where violent U.S. extremists have allegedly shared tips in an attempt to foster a sinister community. It's cybersecurity provider Cloudfare noted in a blog that "nearly the same thing happened on 8chan before the terror attack in Christchurch, New Zealand" in which 50 people were killed. Cloudfare CEO Matthew Prince blasted the group and terminated the organization immediately.

FOX Business and the Associated Press take a look at who or what 8chan is and the efforts to combat hate by businesses and government.

What or is 8Chan?

The online message board dates back to 2013. It allows users to post graphic and extremist content and doesn't censor posts. The site has been linked to violent extremists. Police are investigating commentary posted on 8chan that is believed to have been written by the suspect in a shooting Saturday that killed 22 people in El Paso, Texas. If there is a connection, it would be the third known instance of a shooter posting to the site before going on a rampage. In March, the gunman involved in mass shootings at two New Zealand mosques posted a rambling manifesto to the site, as did another who injured several people and killed one at a California synagogue in April.

Cloudfare takes action 

"8chan has repeatedly proven itself to be a cesspool of hate," Cloudflare CEO Matthew Prince wrote in a blog post.

The privately-held cybersecurity firm hosts more than 19 million Internet properties that use its service. 8chan is one of those, according to the company, which detailed its decision to terminate the group from its service.

"We just sent notice that we are terminating 8chan as a customer effective at midnight tonight Pacific Time. The rationale is simple: 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. We do not take this decision lightly. Cloudflare is a network provider. In pursuit of our goal of helping build a better internet, we’ve considered it important to provide our security services broadly to make sure as many users as possible are secure, and thereby making cyberattacks less attractive — regardless of the content of those websites."


Can 8chan and hate groups be regulated? 

8chan's popularity rose after the similarly named but unaffiliated site 4chan cracked down on more extreme posts. Because the U.S. doesn't specifically outlaw domestic terrorism the way it does foreign-sponsored extremism, such sites enjoy broad protection from government oversight under the First Amendment. Even if that weren't the case, sites like 8chan are also difficult to regulate because users can simply move on if moderations grow more stricter or if a site shuts down.

"Dealing with incitement to violence and hatred online goes well beyond any one platform," the American Defamation League's Oren Segal said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.