- Over the weekend, 22 people were killed and more than two dozen others were injured in a mass shooting at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas.
- A manifesto said to be from the shooting suspect appeared beforehand on an anonymous web forum named 8chan, which is owned and operated by Jim Watkins and his company, NT Technology.
- 8chan is notorious for hosting users who casually use racism, homophobic language, and gender-based slurs. Following the posting of the shooter’s manifesto to 8chan, the company’s security-services provider Cloudflare cut ties with 8chan.
- Another company offered services to get 8chan back online, but was subsequently cut off by its provider. The site has been offline ever since.
- In his first statement since the site went offline, 8chan owner Jim Watkins vowed to bring 8chan back to life.
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The owner and operator of 8chan, the notorious anonymous online forum that’s been repeatedly linked to mass shootings, is vowing to bring the site back to life.
“It becomes time to find a new home,” 8chan owner Jim Watkins said in a YouTube video posted on Tuesday morning. “Think of 8chan as a large community of 1 million people that are now looking for a home.”
As of Tuesday morning, 8chan remains offline in the wake of its connection with the shooting in El Paso, Texas – the suspected gunman wrote a manifesto that was posted to 8chan before the shooting took place.
Prior to this past weekend’s shooting, two other mass shootings in 2019 were directly connected to 8chan users:
- The Christchurch, New Zealand shooting this past May, where over 50 people were killed by a single shooter, was the first major example: The shooter is said to have posted a 74-page manifesto ahead of the tragic attack.
- Again, in the case of a synagogue shooting in Poway, California where one person was killed, the shooter is said to have posted a manifesto ahead of time to 8chan.
In the wake of the most recent shooting, 8chan’s security-services provider Cloudflare ended its relationship with 8chan – effectively taking it offline. When another hosting company stepped in to replace Cloudflare, that company’s services provider ended relations with them. 8chan remains offline as of Tuesday, and there doesn’t appear to be a path forward.
“We are working to restore service,” Watkins said in a video posted on Tuesday morning.
“They are a private company and of course have a right to stop doing business with me,” Watkins said in reference to Cloudflare. “Likely this is because of their intended and soon to happen IPO. Calling 8ch.net lawless by design, he decided to terminate us. This is of course an untrue statement. He did terminate us though, so it becomes time to find a new home. Think of 8chan as a large community of 1 million people that are now looking for a home.”
Watkins framed the situation as one of freedom of speech.
“8chan is an empty piece of paper for writing on,” he said in the video, which featured a silhouette of Benjamin Franklin behind Watkins. “It is clearly a political move to remove 8chan from Cloudflare. It has forced a lot of people to find other places to talk. It has dispersed a peacefully assembled group of people talking. This silenced them effectively.”
Notably, 8chan is owned by Watkins’ private company, NT Technology, and relies on other corporations to stay online (such as Cloudflare). The US Constitution provides for the freedom of speech through its first amendment, but that right does not extend to private corporations on the internet.
The full video from Watkins is available below: