Notorious message board 8chan's network service to be terminated

In the wake of back-to-back mass shootings believed to have been motivated by white supremacy, notorious message board 8chan may finally be taken offline.

There have been calls to terminate the forum before, which is home to a cesspool of extremist imagery and bigoted rhetoric.

After it was revealed that the suspected Texas Walmart gunman is believed to have posted a "manifesto" justifying his violent actions on 8chan, even the site's founder said it provided a "receptive audience for domestic terrorists" and should be shut down.

Now it looks as though that could really happen, with network provider Cloudfare announcing it would terminate 8chan's service at midnight PDT - 7pm NZ time. 

Cloudflare protects against DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks, in which people try to overload a website by flooding it with traffic. Without protection from such attacks, the newly vulnerable 8chan will effectively no longer function, although if it finds another network provider willing to keep it online it could survive under their cyber-protection. 

Cloudfare CEO Matthew Prince wrote a lengthy blog post explaining the decision, saying he feels uncomfortable "playing the role of content arbiter" but that it would be irresponsible to keep 8chan operational.

"The rationale is simple: they have proven themselves to be lawless and that lawlessness has caused multiple tragic deaths," he wrote. 

"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."

In 2017 Cloudflare removed neo-Nazi website the Daily Stormer from its service.

Fredrick Brennan, the 25-year-old founder of 8chan, publicly thanked Cloudflare for terminating his creation.

"Finally this nightmare may have an end," he wrote on Twitter.

He created 8chan in 2013 as a more extreme version of imageboard 4chan. In the six years since it's become home to anonymous users who often post graphic images and racist or sexist comments. 

In March the alleged Christchurch gunman used 8chan to post links to the livestream of the massacre, as well as a document detailing his hatred for Muslims and immigration.

In the days after the Christchurch mosque shooting, several telecom companies blocked user access to 4chan, 8chan and other websites populated by white supremacists.

Brennan said the number of attacks carried out by 8chan users proved the forum was causing "more misery than anything else".

"It's not doing the world any good," he told the New York Times after the Texas shooting. "It's a complete negative to everybody except the users that are there. And you know what? It's a negative to them, too. They just don't realise it."