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8chan owner testifies before Congress on extremism on site



  The Dome of the United States Capitol Building Against Deep Blue Sky in Washington, DC.
Enlargement / The dome of the United States Capitol Building in Washington, DC.

Getty Images | Phil Roder

The owner of the infamous 8chan graphic card site, James Watkins, appeared in Washington today to present evidence to the Homeland Security Committee. Although the live session will be held behind closed doors, Watkins presented written statements before his appearance that hinted at the direction of the hearing ̵

1; and the future of 8chan – could be held.

The committee requested a hearing about a month ago after a mass shooting at Walmart in El Paso, Texas, which resulted in 22 deaths. "This is at least the third act of white supreme extremist violence related to your website this year," the committee noted in a letter to Watkins (PDF), referring to the April massacre at a California synagogue and mass shootings in a mosque in New Zealand. "Americans deserve to know what, if anything, you, as owner and operator, do to deal with the spread of extremist content on 8chan.

"Contrary to some rather noisy people," Watkins said in his written response (PDF), "my company complies with the law and we understand that it is necessary to restrict certain speeches." That said, he added, "My company does not intend to delete constitutionally protected hate speech."

Consumers with "uneducated, uninformed and conspiratorial opinions" are welcome to share "poorly formed opinions, popular conspiracy theories, or hateful monologues. "on 8chan," Watkins said, with curation "left to thousands of moderators and fellow users in the hope that a better cause and enlightened wisdom will eventually prevail." All of the site's boards work in exactly one global rule, he added: "Do not post, solicit, or link to content that is illegal in the United States of America, and do not create one for the purpose of posting or distributing such content. "

This rule seems to be a rather relaxed guideline, at best, since 8chan developed his initial reputation as a child pornography haven before becoming a hotbed of abusers and a home for abusive white supreme extremists.

"Record of 8chan demonstrates that it is a responsible platform," Watkins concluded.

8chan founder Fredrick Brennan, who in recent months has tried to distance himself from the site, told NBC News that he expects Watkins to " lying through the teeth "during questioning. [19659011]" Voluntary "offline

" P that time, 8chan is voluntarily offline, "Watkins told Congress." The site may only return online, but only when 8chan manages to develop additional tools to counteract illegal content under United States law.

, seems to be making a very heavy lift in that sentence. Cloudflare, which previously provided CDN and DDoS security services to 8chan, dropped the site as a customer in August, with CEO Matthew Prince at the time saying that 8chan "repeatedly has proved Cat

He was able to reappear a few days later after providing web services under the Epik BitMitigate brand. However, entities working with actual servers running Epik, including Voxility, Amazon and Linode, all said in August that 8chan content would not be welcome on their platforms and the site had not returned to service ever since. [19659005] The site has "limited contact with Silicon Valley technology companies or their staff," Watkins wrote. 8chan's parent company NT Technology has contracts with "Arin, Tucows and Epik," he said, otherwise the company "had no contact with any companies or staff responsible for alternative social media sites."

NT Technology, a registered agent in Nevada, Laughlin Associates, said that in August, local media broke ties with NT.

Site Administrator Ron Watkins said on Twitter in August that 8chan would remain offline at least until today, the date of the hearing, and he asked users to be "respectful" to contact MPs.


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