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8chan, extreme right-wing terrorist factory

8chan, extreme right-wing terrorist factory?

8chan, extreme right-wing terrorist factory?

The 8chan forum is singled out for having been used by alleged perpetrators of three racist killings in the United States over the past six months. How can this platform, which has become a haven for extremists, encourage action?

Three killings in less than six months, one website. Since the terrorist attacks in Christchurch, which killed 51 people and wounded 49 in two mosques in New Zealand on 15 March 2019, the name of the 8chan forum has almost always been used in an attack in the name of white supremacism.

The shooter suspected of opening fire in a shopping mall in El Paso, Texas, on Saturday, August 3, killing at least 20 people and injuring 26 others, posted a racist "manifesto" on 8chan shortly before taking action. Brenton Tarrant, charged with the Christchurch shooting, had done the same, as had the far-right terrorist who killed a woman and wounded two people in a synagogue in San Diego, California, on April 27, 2019.



Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator


the /pol group concentrates almost all hate content

Enough is enough, said Monday, August 5, the IT company Cloudflare which has severed its commercial ties with 8chan. Used by nearly 20 million sites, this company's services are considered essential to protect against certain computer attacks in particular. For his part, Fredrick Brennan, the creator of 8chan, called on Sunday for the abolition of this platform of free expression taken to the extreme. He had already distanced himself from his controversial offspring a few months earlier.

8chan is, in reality, only the last online place where extremists talk about white supremacism, "grand replacement" and violence against blacks, Jews and Hispanics. Previously, the community site Reddit, then the 4chan forum, had experienced the same abuses, before cracking down on its noisy minorities, who were asked to spill their hatred elsewhere.

Like these other platforms, 8chan is a collection of sub-forums dedicated to everything and everything - video games, new technologies or web culture - with a very slight moderation of comments. It is the /pol sub-forum (for politics) that concentrates almost all hate content and criticism.

The most virulent charge against this den of extremists came from the investigative journalism site Bellingcat.  "As long as the authorities and the media do not treat these shooters as members of a terrorist organization similar to the terrorist movement Islamic State or Al Qaeda, the attacks will continue to follow one another," writes one of the journalists who spent several months investigating the forum and its members.

This bold parallel is based on the idea that 8chan, like the propaganda sites of terrorist groups, incites action against designated enemies and "treats the perpetrators of massacres as'one of us'," writes Bellingcat. "There are indeed similarities in that users post manuals, guides or manifests online that can help those likely to take action, such as on jihadist propaganda sites. 8chan provides a collection of hate texts that allow those who consult them to build an alternative reality - with ideas such as the theory of "grand replacement" or "white genocide" - that can be used as a pretext for an attack," Bharath Ganesh, assistant professor of media studies at the University of Groningen (Netherlands) and specialist in the far right on the Internet, tells France 24.

8chan also introduced a form of "gamification" of the attack. This would strengthen Bellingcat's sense of belonging to a group. "Since the Christchurch killings, forum members have regularly recalled the number of Brenton Tennant victims and stressed that this is a'score to be surpassed'," writes Bellingcat. The terrorist also broadcast his attack live "with a camera on his helmet as if it were a first-person shooting game," the site adds. The perpetrator of the massacre in the synagogue in San Diego had also tried to do the same. "This gamification is primarily used to celebrate the killings on 8chan," notes Bharath Ganesh.

"Wifi Terrorism"

But these elements are not enough to make it a full-fledged terrorist group, according to the specialists interviewed. "There is no well-established chain of command or hierarchy where there would be a principal, as may be the case for Al Qaeda, for example," says Matthew Feldman, director of the Center for analysis of radical right, contacted by France 24. There is also no restricted access for members on 8chan and "nothing prevents an opponent from coming to speak, which would be unthinkable on a forum of a jihadist terrorist group," he adds.

Above all, "it is counterproductive to call a platform like 8chan a terrorist group, because the perpetrators of the killings are terrorists "self-activated terrorist"," notes Matthew Feldman. That is, they planned, prepared and executed their attack without outside help, even though their determination was built by surfing and chatting on the Internet.

For him, 8chan is rather the quintessence of what he calls "wifi terrorism". Extremists are multiplying online hate speech by trying to reach the widest possible audience, hoping that this will be enough to get one or the other Internet user to act. "It's the same phenomenon as fifteen years ago in London, when Abu Hamza, the imam of the Finsbury Park Mosque, proclaimed his hateful message in the public square, except that it happens online," Matthew Feldman explains. "Even if 
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