Twenty minutes before the alleged shooter stormed into a Walmart in El Paso, Texas and killed 22 people, he reportedly posted an anti-immigrant screed onto 8chan, an online message forum that’s been linked to violent extremism. The post marked the third time in six months that a mass shooter has published a violent message on the site before carrying out an act of terrorism.
Government officials, pundits, and members of the public have been debating whether 8chan played a role in inciting the shooters to carry out mass violence. Some have called for the site to be shut down, including the original founder of 8chan, while the current owner of 8chan, Jim Watkins, has repeatedly refused to take it offline.
Northeastern professors argue that the federal government can’t take legal action to shut down 8chan, but, they say, internet intermediaries such as cybersecurity, domain, and search engine providers can minimize the spread of violent hate speech on 8chan by refusing service to the online message board.