7 Aug 2019

8chan owner called before Congress following El Paso shooting

2:32 pm on 7 August 2019

The online message board 8chan is being called before Congress to testify about its racist and notorious content.

Law enforcement agencies respond to an active shooter at a Wal-Mart near Cielo Vista Mall in El Paso, Texas.

Law enforcement agencies respond to an active shooter at a Wal-Mart near Cielo Vista Mall in El Paso, Texas. Photo: AFP

The US House of Homeland Security Committee has sent a letter to 8chan owner Jim Watkins to provide answers on how the company has responded in the wake of three mass shootings this year which have been promoted on the site.

It said was writing in the wake of the domestic terrorist attack in El Paso Texas in which 22 people were killed.

The 21-year-old Dallas man suspected of the shooting is believed to have posted a four-page white nationalist manifesto on 8chan.

In its letter the Committee said, regrettably, the El Paso shooting was, at least, the third act of white supremacist extremist violence linked to the website this year.

It mentioned the shooting at a California synagogue in April and the March mosque attacks in Christchurch.

The letter also said "Americans deserve to know what, if anything, you, as the owner and operator, are doing to address the proliferation of extremist content on 8chan".

Earlier this week, the American cyber security firm Cloudfare dropped 8chan as a customer following the El Paso shooting.

In a statement Cloudfare said 8-chan did not break the law by not moderating what he called the 'hate-filled' content posted by its users, but did create an environment that revels in violating the spirit of the law.

It quickly found a new home with Epik, a Seattle-based company which last year welcomed neo-Nazi site the Daily Stormer and "free-speech" site Gab.

But within hours, after being alerted to the 8chan connection by former Facebook chief security officer Alex Stamos, Epik's own web infrastructure provider Voxility dropped it as a customer.

Mr Stamos reiterated his call for "responsible tech companies" to blockade 8chan by not allowing links to the site, citing its use as a recruitment tool.

- RNZ/Reuters

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