8chan owner summoned to testify before U.S. Congress

MANILA, Philippines – Internet forum 8chan's troubles are far from over, as current owner Jim Watkins has been summoned to testify before the US House Homelang Security Committee.

Following the Walmart shooting in El Paso, Texas, that left 20 people dead, the bipartisan leaders of the House Homeland Security Committee sent a summons to Watkins on Tuesday, August 6.

The summons requested Watkins to "provide testimony regarding 8chan’s efforts to investigate and mitigate the proliferation of extremist content, including white supremacist extremist content" on the forum.

This is because at least 3 mass shootings had been connected in some way to 8chan. The shooters were said to have posted manifestos or racist screeds on the site prior to the respective shootings.

Aside from the El Paso shooting, there was also similar activities during the Christchurch massacre in New Zealand, and the shooting at the Chabad of Poway Synagogue in California.

Watkins also went onto YouTube on August 6 to denounce Cloudflare's decision to cease doing business with 8chan, saying the company "dispersed a peacefully assembled group of people talking." He also called Cloudflare's actions "a political move."


Philippine troubles

The scrutiny of 8chan is compounded by reports that both the Philippine National Police (PNP) and National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) were looking into the site, especially as forum owner Watkins lived in the Philippines.

PNP chief General Oscar Albayalde said in a press briefing on August 6 that the police were working "to verify" and monitor 8chan following the shootings.

Meanwhile, a Wired report mentioned the NBI's Cybercrime Division was investigating the forum as a potential haven for child pornography.

Cybercrime Division Chief Victor Lorenzo explained, “Considering that the Philippines was tapped as the epicenter of child pornography materials, we are interested in this issue,” he said “If you are going to visit his site, he is actually trying to promote, or catering to, child pornography, and it is a serious offense here.”

8chan offline

8chan itself has been offline for an extended period.

After 8chan's original host, CloudFlare, cut ties with it, the site tried to engage the services of BitMitigate, which is owned by Epik. Epik, however, was renting servers from infrastructure-as-a-service provider Voxility.

Once someone pointed out the optics of 8chan being effectively hosted by Voxility, the provider also cut ties with Epik, leaving Bitmitigate, 8chan, and a neo-Nazi site known as The Daily Stormer out in the cold. – Rappler.com

Victor Barreiro Jr.

Victor Barreiro Jr is part of Rappler's Central Desk. An avid patron of role-playing games and science fiction and fantasy shows, he also yearns to do good in the world, and hopes his work with Rappler helps to increase the good that's out there.