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这家网站已成为杀手交流的空间,却难以关闭

Alyssa Newcomb 2019年08月11日

8月3日在埃尔帕索至少射杀22人的凶手曾在该网站上发布宣言。

充满仇恨言论的在线论坛8chan很受白人民族主义者的欢迎,也是最近几次大规模枪击案凶手交流想法的必到之地。

8月3日在埃尔帕索至少射杀22人的凶手曾经在该网站上发布宣言。今年4月加州波威市犹太教堂枪击案中打死一人的凶手也是如此。在新西兰基督城清真寺行凶的枪手今年3月也是在8chan发布的宣言,还提供了Facebook直播链接供人观看和效仿。这次枪击造成51人丧生。

种种恶劣记录已经促使许多对抗仇恨团体的组织要求关闭8chan。埃尔帕索凶案发生后,就连该网站的创始人弗雷德里克·布伦南也在几次采访中表示希望关掉8chan。布伦南现在和该网站已经没有任何关系。

实际上,像其他所有网站一样,8chan并不能控制自己是否存在于互联网上。它的在线运营要靠互联网基础设施公司,还要靠安全服务来抵御有可能使其宕机的拒绝服务攻击(DoS)。

但许多公司都不愿意对仇恨和阴谋论网站采取行动,原因是担心干扰言论自由,或者由某些人决定哪些内容值得放在互联网上让他们感到不安。

追踪仇恨团体的非营利组织Southern Poverty Law Center的临时研究负责人基冈·汉克斯支持关闭8chan。他说,公司有责任和8chan及其他充当极端活动温床的网站断绝业务往来。

汉克斯对《财富》杂志表示:“任何帮助此类内容扩散的主流公司都完全有责任表明立场并将其排除在它们的体系之外。我们都看到了纵容会带来怎样的惨剧。”

8chan的安全服务提供商是Cloudflare。该公司的首席执行官马修·普林斯在8月4日晚称,将停止向8chan提供服务。

“理由很简单——他们已经证明自己目无法纪,而且这种对法律的漠视已经造成多人丧生的悲剧。”普林斯在一篇博客中表示,“即使8chan拒绝克制他们充满仇恨的网络社区的行径可能没有违反法律,他们也已经创造了一个以违反法律精神为乐的狂热环境。”

没有Cloudflare的服务,8chan就很容易受到分布式拒绝服务(DDoS)攻击,这种方法通过人为制造的流量使网站过载。据布伦南介绍,8chan在Cloudflare终止服务后已经下线,但据说是主动关闭。

他给媒体的公告如下:

8chan的管理者主动关闭了这个网站。他们在8chan的域名系统(DNS)中加入了一条零值A记录。但看起来它将很快再次上线,https://t.co/toxC0z07rz指向45.88.201.123,这个地址的所有者是“Anonymize Inc”。

— 弗雷德里克·布伦南 (@HW_BEAT_THAT),2019年8月5日

这应该不是外界第一次就与之有业务关系的网站对互联网基础设施公司发出公开呼吁。

互联网域名注册商GoDaddy.com此前曾经将新纳粹网站Daily Stormer从自己的服务名单中剔除,原因是后者的创始人通过这个网站攻击2017年在夏洛茨维尔被白人至上主义者杀害的反法西斯抗议者希瑟·海耶尔。Daily Stormer随后想通过谷歌的域名注册服务Google Domains迅速上线,但遭到了拒绝,其他几家域名注册商也让它吃了闭门羹。

网上发布的记录显示,Daily Stormer目前通过私人域名服务商Dynadot进行了注册。

去年,苹果的播客商店将右翼阴谋论煽动者阿莱克斯·琼斯的InfoWars频道下架,推特和YouTube最终也将其封号。MailChimp停止为其提供电子邮件服务,使琼斯无法向粉丝群发阴谋论邮件。不过,琼斯仍然拥有InfoWars网站,后者通过Epik.com进行了注册。

InfoWars也使用Cloudflare提供的安全服务。去年,Cloudflare拒绝说明自己是否决定继续向InfoWars提供服务,但在2017年的一篇博客中,Cloudflare提出了内容监管问题,也指出了几家大公司控制互联网域名的危险性。

普林斯在该篇博客中说:“我们打算进行长时间的内部探讨,以决定我们是否需要取消不因政治压力而切断客户关系的原则。能够说自己从未做过什么事……从未犯过错很厉害,而和政府进行辩论要更难一些,它会向我们施压,要求我们拿掉他们不喜欢的网站。”

8月5日,8chan的一位管理者说该网站将重新上线,并与设在华盛顿的安全服务提供商BitMitigate合作,后者的网站自称具有“经过验证的对自由的承诺”。2017年Daily Stormer失去Cloudflare的支持后,BitMitigate的一位代表曾经为其提供帮助。我们尚未与该代表取得联系。

8月5日下午,Daily Stormer处于下线状态。

Southern Poverty Law Center的汉克斯说几乎可以肯定8chan将回归,原因是此类网站在被某家服务提供商拒绝后,总会有公司愿意保护它,或者对仇恨网站表示欢迎。

汉克斯说:“正因为如此,他们说自己被这些平台抛弃,被逐出了互联网都是空话。因为情况并非如此。”(财富中文网)

译者:Charlie

审校:夏林

8chan, the hate-filled online forum that is popular white nationalists, has been the go-to place for several recent mass killers to share their ideas.

The man who murdered at least 22 people in El Paso on August 3 posted a manifesto on the site. So did the man who opened fire in a Poway, Calif. synagogue in April, killing one person. The Christchurch mosque shooter posted his manifesto on 8chan in March, along with a link to a Facebook Live broadcast so people could watch and copy the footage of him killing 51 people.

The ugly track record has prompted many organizations that combat hate groups to call to shut down 8chan. Even the service’s founder, Fredrick Brennan, who is no longer affiliated with the site, has said in several interviews after the El Paso massacre that he wants the site to be closed.

In fact, like every other website, 8chan doesn’t control its own existence on the Internet. It relies on Internet infrastructure companies to operate online and on security services to fend off denial of service attacks to could knock it offline.

But many companies hesitate to take action against sites that harbor hate and conspiracy theories, citing free speech concerns and discomfort with anyone deciding what is worthy to be on the Internet.

Keegan Hankes, interim research director at the Southern Poverty Law Center, a nonprofit that tracks hate groups, is in the camp that favors action. Companies have a responsibility to stop doing business with 8chan and other sites that are hotbeds for extremist activity, he said.

“Any of the mainstream companies helping this content proliferate have full responsibility to take a stance on that and get it off their systems,” Hankes told Fortune. “We’ve seen what the tragic consequences can be.”

Matthew Prince, CEO of Cloudflare, a security provider used by 8chan, announced on night of August 4 that he would terminate 8chan as a client.

“The rationale is simple: they have proven themselves to be lawless and that lawlessness has caused multiple tragic deaths,” Prince said in a blog post. “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.”

Without a service like Cloudflare, 8chan is vulnerable to a DDoS attack, in which hackers try to overload the site with artificial traffic. 8chan went offline after Cloudflare terminated its support, according to Brennan, but it was said to be voluntary.

Note to people in the media:

8chan’s administrators have voluntarily taken it down. They’ve inserted what’s called a null A record into their DNS. It looks like it’s going to come back soon, https://t.co/toxC0z07rz points to 45.88.201.123, an IP owned by “Anonymize Inc”

— Fredrick Brennan (@HW_BEAT_THAT) August 5, 2019

It’s hardly the first time Internet infrastructure companies have been called out publicly about the sites with which they do business.

Domain hosting site GoDaddy.com kicked the neo-Nazi website the Daily Stormer off its service after that site’s founder used it to attack Heather Heyer, the protestor who was killed by a white supremacist in Charlottesville in 2017. Daily Stormer tried to quickly get set up with Google Domains, which rejected the application, as did several other similar services.

Daily Stormer is currently registered at privately-held Dynadot, according to records posted online.

Last year, InfoWars provocateur Alex Jones was booted from Apple’s podcast store, and eventually off of Twitter and YouTube. MailChimp cut off his email service, preventing him from mass emailing conspiracy theories to his followers. However, Jones still has his InfoWars website, which is registered with Epik.com.

InfoWars also uses Cloudflare for security. Last year, Cloudflare declined to comment about its decision to continue providing services to InfoWars, but the company had published a blog post in 2017 in which it raised questions about regulating content and the danger of a few large companies controlling the Internet’s plumbing.

“We’re going to have a long debate internally about whether we need to remove the bullet about not terminating a customer due to political pressure,” Prince said in the post. “It’s powerful to be able to say you’ve never done something...make no mistake, it will be a little bit harder for us to argue against a government somewhere pressuring us into taking down a site they don’t like.”

On August 5, an 8chan administrator said the site will return online by working with BitMitigate, a Washington-based security provider whose website says it has a “proven commitment to liberty.” A representative for BitMitigate, which previously helped Daily Stormer when it lost Cloudflare’s support in 2017, could not immediately be reached for comment.

Daily Stormer was offline on August 5 afternoon.

Hankes, from the Southern Poverty Law Center, said 8chan will almost certainly be back because there will always be companies that are willing to protect or welcome a hate site after its been evicted by another provider.

“That is why these arguments ring hollow when these people say they are being thrown off these platforms and driven off the internet,” said Hankes. “They’re not.”

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