Aug 6, 2019

Homeland Security Committee calls on 8chan owner to testify after mass shootings

Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

The bipartisan leaders of the House Homeland Security Committee on Tuesday sent to a letter to Jim Watkins, owner and operator of the anonymous forum 8chan, asking him to testify about his efforts to "investigate and mitigate the proliferation of extremist content" on his website.

Why it matters: The letter notes that there have been at least three acts of white supremacist violence linked to 8chan this year, including the mass shooting in El Paso this weekend. On Monday, 8chan's network service operator Cloudflare called the website a "cesspool of hate" before shutting down its services. The founder of 8chan has also called for the site to be shut down, labeling it a "receptive audience for domestic terrorists" after the suspected El Paso terrorist posted an anti-immigrant manifesto on 8chan's message board hours before opening fire.

Go deeper: What to do about 8chan, the net's atrocity megaphone

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House subpoenas 8chan owner to testify on extremist content

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.

Go deeperArrowAug 14, 2019

White House invites tech companies to discuss "violent extremism online"

Trump makes remarks in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House after the El Paso shooting.Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

The White House has asked unnamed "internet and technology companies" to attend a meeting with staff and senior administration officials on Friday about "violent extremism online," an administration spokesperson said Wednesday.

Why it matters: The invitation, which was first reported by Politico, comes in the wake of a mass shooting in El Paso, Texas, in which the suspected gunman allegedly posted an anti-immigrant manifesto on the online forum 8chan. The cybersecurity provider Cloudflare has stopped working with 8chan, which has been linked to mass shootings this year in El Paso, New Zealand and San Diego.

Go deeper: What to do about 8chan, the net's atrocity megaphone

In gun reform plan, Beto O'Rourke wants to hold social media liable

Beto O’Rourke speaks at a campaign re-launch on August 15 in El Paso, Texas. Photo: Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images

Former Rep. Beto O'Rourke wants to hold social media platforms liable for failing to ban "hateful activities" like harassment, white nationalism or defamation in his newly unveiled gun reform plan.

Be smart: Efforts to limit or amend Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act — which shields platforms like Google and Facebook from legal liability for users' posts — have historically failed because of free speech protections granted by the First Amendment.

Go deeperArrowAug 17, 2019