Psychology has shown us that people tend to do with group support, what they wouldn’t otherwise. 8chan, owned by Jim Watkins, has come under scrutiny for similar reasons. Debates have been going on whether or not the app should shut down because it encourages criminal mentality amongst people. Even the original founder of the app is in support for the closure of the app. However, Watkins doesn’t seem to budge.
Professors of Northeastern University believe that the federal government has no power to ban the app or take a legal action against it, but other important players like cybersecurity, domain, and search engine providers can minimise the spread of violence by denying service to the platform. Talking about why the site is dangerous Kay Mathiesen, professor of Philosophy at the University, says that the site becomes an echo chamber for the negative, vile, and awful points of view of the society. John Wihbey, professor of Journalism, says that the service providers have to take moral and social responsibility for the content on the sites they provide service to. For him, this is the best way out of the problem.
The online platform has been denied service by Cloudflare, the security provider of 8chan. This move was taken following the mass shooting at Walmart in El Paso, that resulted in the death of 22 people. Before the shooting, it is alleged that the shooter posted a message on 8chan that showed violent extremist thoughts. This was the sixth instance in the month when such a message was posted on the site before an act of terrorism.
However, given all this, the question still goes unanswered. Can an app incite crime? Had there been no 8chan to voice out their opinions, would the criminals have not acted out on their extremist or violent thoughts? Is there going to be a reduction in the crime rate once it shuts down? Time will have to tell.
N Malavika Mohan