- On Tuesday, the House Committee on Homeland Security requested that 8chan’s owner, Jim Watkins, testify regarding the message board’s links to multiple mass shootings.
- The suspect in Saturday’s mass shooting in El Paso, Texas, is believed to have posted a manifesto on 8chan minutes before the attack.
- Still, based off the House’s letter on Tuesday, it seems unclear whether Watkins will attend, as the committee didn’t seem to have a valid mailing address for the 8chan owner, who reportedly lives in the Philippines.
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The owner of 8chan, the online message board that has been repeatedly linked to mass shootings, has been summoned to appear before the House Committee on Homeland Security, but even the members of Congress who made the request on Tuesday seem wary that he’ll show.
That’s because little is known about Jim Watkins, 8chan’s owner, including – it appears – his physical mailing address.
“Please provide the Committee with current physical contact information for you or your authorised representative in the United States so that you can receive communication from the Committee,” the House letter said.
Watkins, a US Army veteran, is said to have relocated his family in 2004 to the Philippines, where he reportedly lives today – raising pigs and running various websites, including an audiobook company and 8chan.
The letter, which included a Reno, Nevada, address belonging to a “Laughlin Associates,” was said to be delivered by mail, email, and Twitter. In it, the Committee said it “respectfully requested” Watkins’ presence at the hearing. It was not immediately clear what connection the Laughlin Associates address in Reno has to Watkins.
In its tweet announcing the letter, the House Committee included 8chan’s Twitter handle in an apparent attempt to make contact with the company. Given that 8chan then retweeted the letter, it appears the company is aware its owner had been summoned.
????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.
— House Homeland Security Committee (@HomelandDems) August 6, 2019
The request for Watkins to testify comes in the wake of Saturday’s mass shooting in El Paso, Texas, which left at least 22 people dead. The suspect, a 21-year-old man, is believed to have posted a manifesto on 8chan minutes before the attack advocating anti-immigrant and white supremacy beliefs.
“Regrettably, this is at least the third act of white supremacist extremist violence linked to your website this year,” the letter said.
Representatives from 8chan did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment.
8chan, which was described as as a “cesspool of hate” by Cloudfare, the security firm that protected it from cyberattacks, went offline Sunday after the security firm terminated its service with the site. The company subsequently tweeted that it might experience some downtime over the following 24 to 48 hours but would be back online after its technical issues were sorted out.
8chan’s message board remained offline at the time of this article’s publication.
8chan’s founder, Fredrick Brennan – who’s no longer connected to the site and has become an outspoken critic – had words for Watkins in a report this week by The Washington Post. “Do the world a favour and shut it off,” he said.