memri
March 10, 2020 Special Dispatch No. 8619

Cloudflare, The U.S.-Based Leading Reverse-Proxy Service, Is Exploited By Numerous White Supremacists And Neo-Nazis

March 10, 2020
Special Dispatch No. 8619

The U.S.-based Cloudflare service, that acts as a reverse proxy for websites, states on its website that it is "the Integrated Global Cloud Platform" that is "trusted by over 26 million Internet properties." It continues: "Cloudflare provides a scalable, easy-to-use, unified control plane to deliver security, performance, and reliability for on-premises, hybrid, cloud, and SaaS applications."[1] It adds that the service offers "firewall, DDoS protection, rate limiting, bot management, VPN, and more"; "intelligent routing, mobile & image optimization, [and] cache"; and "load balancing, DNS, [and] virtual backbone."[2] Cloudflare CEO Matthew Prince explained in 2017 that Cloudflare "makes sites faster, we help them stay online, we stop big cyber-attacks launched against them, and... a huge portion of the internet, most of our big customers, are big Fortune 500 companies."[3]

Over the past few years, as white supremacists have expanded their outreach and influence and are disseminating more and more content online, they have protected many of their websites with Cloudflare.   

It should be noted that following the August 2017 Unite the Right rally that turned deadly, Cloudflare stopped providing services to the white supremacist Daily Stormer website.[4] In an interview on the topic, Prince said that that the Daily Stormer  was "the exception that proved that we really needed to rethink a lot of the rules, not just for Cloudflare but with the tech industry in general," that the website was harassing people who had submitted complaints to them via the Cloudflare, and that the Daily Stormer was actually claiming that Cloudflare staff supported its mission. "That was really the final straw for us," he said. However, he stressed, the company still believed that "the right policy is to be a content-neutral network" and that this was "a way for us to say, Let's stop and think about what's the right place for Internet content to be regulated."[5]

In August 2019, following the mass shooting in El Paso, TX, Cloudflare terminated service to the 8chan forum website, where a white-nationalist and anti-immigrant manifesto was posted prior to the attack, apparently by the shooter. Writing in the Cloudflare blog on the issue, Prince pointed out that the same had happened on 8chan just prior to the mass murder at the Christchurch, New Zealand mosques in March 2019 and that the April 2019 Poway, California synagogue shooter had also posted an "open letter" on the website. He added that 8chan "have proven themselves to be lawless and that lawlessness has caused multiple tragic deaths."

Nevertheless, Cloudflare still provides services to many white supremacist, neo-Nazi, antisemitic, and racist websites, as documented by the MEMRI White Supremacist Threat Monitor (WSTM) project. The following are some of them.

Site 1

Site 1 is a social media platform that has been referred to as a haven for neo-Nazis and white supremacists. Many  users, who tout the platform's free speech, have been banned on mainstream sites such as Twitter and Facebook. The platform was created in 2016. Robert Bowers, the perpetrator of the Pittsburgh synagogue mass shooting, posted his antisemitic conspiracy theories to the site before he carried out his attack.

The "nazi" group on Site 1

Site 2

In addition to anime and sports-related discussions, the Site 2 forum hosts a great deal of racist and antisemitic chat. Hate speech has reportedly increased 40% on the platform since 2015, present in one out of every 15 comments, which according to the same report exceeds the volume on other, openly racist websites. Also according to the report, users frequently celebrate violence against minorities and lionize white supremacist and neo-Nazi terrorists, and former users said that the language, memes, and videos on the site had desensitized them to hateful language and bloodshed in their offline lives.

Site 3

Site 3 a pro-white social network which is home to neo-Nazis and white supremacists.[6] It has been gaining in popularity due to a recent purge on Russian social media platform Vkontakte that impacted neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and KKK members.

Site 4

Site 4 is a white supremacist and neo-fascist blog and podcast network founded in 2012.

The site’s founder is credited with creating and popularizing some racist terms in today's social media lexicon, among them the derogatory term "dindu" for African Americans. The antisemitic (((echo))) was also attributed to him; the three sets of parentheses around names and terms are used to denote alleged Jewish influence.

Site 5

Site 5 is a video hosting platform, founded in 2017, that has become a refuge for white supremacists and neo-Nazis who have been booted off YouTube. This site's censorship of posted content is more relaxed than YouTube's. The screenshot below shows an audio book of the 1978 The Turner Diaries, a major text in the white supremacist literary canon that was written by William Luther Pierce.

Site 6

Site 6, which bills itself as the "premier "n**ger bashing site" on the Internet, was created in 2003. The site features a forum in which individuals can share and discuss content.

Site 7

This neo-Nazi website, the first major hate site on the Internet, was created by former Klan boss and a noted white supremacist in 1995. The website hosts a forum where users can discuss a range of topics. Anders Breivik, the Norway mass murderer who killed 77 people in 2011, was active on this site. Additionally, Wade Michael Page who killed six at a Milwaukee Sikh temple, and Richard Andrew Poplawski, who murdered three Pittsburgh police officers were also frequent users of the site.

Site 8

The website of this monthly white supremacist online publication bills itself as "race-realist, white advocacy organization."

Site 9

Site 9 is a well-known neo-Nazi and Holocaust-denial message board founded in 2000. In 2014,  an active member on the site fatally shot three people at two Jewish community centers in Kansas.

Site 10

Site 10 sells an array of white supremacist and neo-Nazi merchandise. It is run by a self-described skinhead, who in 2008 announced that he was distributing thousands of CDs of racist songs to high schoolers, saying "we don’t just entertain racist kids, we create them." At that time, he mostly used MySpace accounts to reach white students.

Payment for items on the site is made via debit or credit card.

Site 11

This anti-black website refers to all African-Americans and members of other African-origin communities as "chimps." The threads and topics include "chimp rape," "N***er Coddling President Donald Trump," "the feral antics of" former First Lady Michelle Obama, and more.

Site12

In 2015, two men launched this weekly racist, antisemitic, anti-LGBTQ podcast.

Site 13

A notable neo-Nazi and former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan's website offers visitors an opportunity to listen to his radio show, watch his videos, and read his essays. He is a vocal Holocaust denier, and an avowed anti-Semite. For years, he has promoted claims of "Jewish supremacy," and he has also blamed incidents such as the 9/11 attacks on Jews.

Site 14

Site 14 is a forum-based site that is used by extreme fascist activists, where they promote and provide tools for violence of all kinds against many groups, far left to far right. Among the different discussions are guides for terrorist tactics, and posts that share links to weaponry sites. In mid-February 2019, the site was offline; it reappeared, protected by Cloudflare, the following month. Extremists from around the world are active on the site, and users are influenced by white supremacist groups such as Atomwaffen Division, Sonnenkrieg Division, and The Base.[7]

Site 15

Site 15 raises money via commissary links for neo-Nazis and white supremacists such as Dylann Roof and Robert Bowers. Individuals are also encouraged to write to such inmates and are provided with their contact details.[8]

Site 16

This neo-Nazi and white supremacist group was founded in 2017. The group frequently disseminates fliers and stickers promoting its ideology around the country.

 

 

 

[1] Cloudflare.com, accessed March 2, 2020.

[3]  Bloomberg.com/news/videos/2017-08-17/cloudflare-ceo-on-responsibility-in-combating-hate-video, August 17, 2017.

[4] Cnet.com/news/daily-stormer-nazi-offline-cloudflare-pulls-support-racist-charlottesville, August 16, 2017.

[5] Bloomberg.com/news/videos/2017-08-17/cloudflare-ceo-on-responsibility-in-combating-hate-video, August 17, 2017.

[7] See Chapter III, MEMRI Special Report No. 44, Online Incitement Against Jews, People Of Color, Muslims, And LGBTQ – Chapter III: Sources And Details Of Their Online Information, March 22, 2019; Adl.org/blog/fascist-forge-a-new-forum-for-hate, January 15, 2019.

[8] See MEMRI WSTM report Neo-Nazi/White Supremacist Charity For 'Political Prisoners' Provides Addresses, Prison Commissary Links To Send Funds To Who's Who Of White Supremacist Terrorists: Charleston Church Shooter Dylann Roof, Pittsburgh Synagogue Shooter Robert Bowers, Atomwaffen Members February 19, 2020.

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