Aug 14, 2019

House subpoenas 8chan owner to testify on extremist content

A man sitting at a memorial for El Paso victims.

A man sitting at a makeshift memorial for victims of a mass shooting in El Paso, Texas. Photo: Paul Ratje/AFP/Getty Images

The House Homeland Security Committee issued a subpoena on Wednesday to Jim Watkins, the owner and operator of 8chan, to discuss extremist rhetoric on social media.

Catch up quick: Bipartisan Committee leaders sent Watkins a letter Aug. 6 asking for him to testify on his efforts to "investigate and mitigate the proliferation of extremist content" on 8chan. The anonymous forum has been linked to at least 3 white supremacist attacks this year — most recently the mass shooting at a Walmart in El Paso in which Hispanics were targeted.

Of note: The site’s founder Fredrick Brennan has called for the site to be shut down, saying it offers a "receptive audience for domestic terrorists." He stepped away from working with the site’s owners in December.

What they're saying:

"In recent years, violent extremist content has proliferated on both large and small social media platforms. ... Receiving testimony from Mr. Watkins is critical to our oversight on this matter."
— per a statement from Committee Chairman Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) and ranking member Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.)

Go deeper: America's hate problem

Editor's note: This post has been corrected to reflect the fact that Jim Watkins is the owner and operator of 8chan (not its founder).

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