Congress Demands 8Chan’s Owner Testify About How the Anonymous Forum Will ‘Tackle Extremist Content
Congress has summoned the anonymous online forum 8chan’s owner Jim Watkins to testify before the House Homeland Security Committee about how the website plans to tackle “the proliferation of extremist content, including white supremacist content.”
Rep. Bennie Thompson and Rep. Mike Rogers wrote in a letter to Watkins that the El Paso shooting was “at least the third act of supremacist violence linked to your website this year.” Similarly, the shooter also had Instagram and Twitter accounts, but they have not been summoned.
This is setting a whole new standard for social media companies that will completely backfire if Republicans actually grow a spine and do something https://t.co/GD921Qh2yH
— Jack Posobiec 🇺🇸 (@JackPosobiec) August 7, 2019
“Americans deserve to know what, if anything, you, as the owner and operator, are doing to address the proliferation of extremist content on 8chan,” the letter to Watkins, an American living in the Philippines, said.
🚨BREAKING🚨: Homeland Security Chairman Thompson & Ranking Member Rogers sent a letter to 8chan owner Jim Watkins demanding he come before Congress and answer questions on the site’s extremist content.
cc: @infinitechan pic.twitter.com/8SDSI1rFLj
— House Homeland Security Committee (@HomelandDems) August 6, 2019
In a statement published on Tuesday, Watkins asserted that the manifesto said to have been posted to 8Chan by the El Paso shooter was not actually uploaded by the killer.
“First of all, the El Paso shooter posted on Instagram, not 8Chan. Later, someone uploaded a manifesto. However, that manifesto was not uploaded by the Walmart shooter,” Watkins asserted in his video statement. “I don’t know if he wrote it or not, but it was not uploaded by the murderer. That is clear, and law enforcement was made aware of this before most people had even heard the horrific news.”
Watkins responded to the summons by tweeting, “rest assured I am not an extremist. My telephone should work worldwide.”
— 8chan (8ch.net) (@infinitechan) August 7, 2019
The forum has been targeted by a massive campaign to have it removed from the internet and is currently offline as it was dropped first by the cybersecurity company Cloudfare, then by Voxility — who provides infrastructure for the hosting platform Epik.
“As soon as we were notified of the content that Epik was hosting, we made the decision to totally ban them,” Voxility business development VP Maria Sirbu told The Verge. “This is the second situation we’ve had with the reseller and this is not tolerable.”