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US Homeland Security Committee subpoenas 8chan owner

Philippines resident Jim Watkins must appear on September 5th.
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JIM WATSON via Getty Images

The House Committee on Homeland Security has subpoenaed 8chan owner Jim Watkins to testify before congress after the site was linked to a deadly mass shooting in El Paso. "At least three acts of deadly white supremacist extremist violence have been linked to 8chan in the last six months," wrote Chairman Bennie G. Thompson and Ranking Member Mike Rogers.

Watkins must appear before the committee on September 5th, according to the subpoena. That could be difficult considering that he lives in the Philippines, but according to The Hill, Watkins is in the US in Reno, Nevada right now, and plans to speak to the committee. "It's a shame I'm being blamed for this," he said in a video.

Today the Committee on Homeland Security issued a subpoena to Jim Watkins, the owner of the website 8chan. In recent years, violent extremist content has proliferated on both large and small social media platforms. At least three acts of deadly white supremacist extremist violence have been linked to 8chan in the last six months. We have questions on what is being done to counter this trend so we can be sure it is being properly addressed. Receiving testimony from Mr. Watkins is critical to our oversight on this matter.

Major internet hosting and security services including CloudFlare cut ties with 8chan shortly after reports that the shooter's rambling messages were posted on the site. At one point, users were reportedly accessing 8chan by ZeroNet, but discovered that because it works like a torrent, they might be unwittingly hosting child pornography. As it stands now, 8chan is still offline.

The Committee ordered Watkins to "provide testimony regarding 8chan's efforts to investigate and mitigate the proliferation of extremist content, including white supremacist extremist content, on your website." It noted that similar racist screeds appeared ahead of shootings in Christchurch, New Zealand and Poway, California.

"We have questions on what is being done to counter this trend so we can be sure it is being properly addressed," the representatives added. "Receiving testimony from Mr. Watkins is critical to our oversight on this matter."

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