The House Homeland Security Committee subpoenaed the owner of 8chan, Jim Watkins, on Wednesday in an attempt to force the Philippines-based entrepreneur to testify before lawmakers next month. The subpoena follows a series of white supremacist-inspired attacks across the world this year, many of which were linked to 8chan.
“We have questions on what is being done to counter this trend so we can be sure it is being properly addressed,” Reps. Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS) and Mike Rogers (R-AL) said in a statement. “Receiving testimony from Mr. Watkins is critical to our oversight on this matter.”
“We have questions on what is being done”
The subpoena requests that Watkins testify before the committee on September 5th at 9:30AM. Watkins has not publicly responded as of publication. However, he did post a video to YouTube on Sunday saying that his team has kept 8chan offline until they speak with lawmakers. It’s unclear whether the lawmakers have requested that it remain inaccessible until that time.
“The website has been offline voluntarily for the last week,” Watkins said. “It’s really, really sad. Please don’t blame me.”
The subpoena follows a request made by the same lawmakers last week to have Watkins come before the committee following the El Paso, Texas shooting earlier this month. That attack resulted in the death of over 20 people at a local Walmart and the suspected shooter posted a white nationalist screed to 8chan only a few minutes before the shooting occurred. It was the latest shooting in a string of extremist attacks in which shooters have posted white supremacist-inspired manifestos to the fringe message board before carrying out an attack. The Christchurch, New Zealand shooter, who killed over 50 people at a mosque, was the first and posted his own screed on the site, linking to a Facebook live stream of the attack as well.
“In recent years, violent extremist content has proliferated on both large and small social media platforms,” Johnson and Rogers said in a statement. “At least three acts of deadly white supremacist extremist violence have been linked to 8chan in the last six months.”
You can read the subpoena below: