Letter to 8Chan from Homeland Security
by Susan Basko, esq.
see also: FBI Warrant against 8Chan
The letter below was sent to Jim Watkins, the owner of the message board 8Chan, from Bennie G. Thompson, the Chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security of the House of Representatives. Notice, it was sent by mail, email, and Twitter. The letter outlines how 8Chan has been used as a place to post white terrorist manifestos before at least 3 mass shootings in recent months. The letter then asks Watkins to come appear before the Committee to tell what steps he is taking to stop the "proliferation of extremist content on 8Chan."
Well, la ti da, finally... I have been singing a chorus for years about the predatory and dangerous hate-filled websites -- 8Chan, Encyclopedia Dramatica, Bullyville, Doxbin, Kiwi Farms, and online racist groups that promote online and real-life hate, such as those connected to Rustle League, Bullyville, GNAA, etc. Other killings have been linked to Encyclopedia Dramatica and Kiwi Farms. Numerous people (including myself) have reported being terrorized, defamed, harassed, having their privacy invaded, and their safety endangered by the owner and denizens of Bullyville, a smear-extortion website. Doxbin was closed down by the Feds, but a mirror of it is reportedly being used by Neo-Nazis to swat and endanger lives of journalists and many others. There have been reports for many years of peoples' lives being harmed or destroyed by the people who use the website and forum of Encyclopedia Dramatica to post defamation, sexual filth, and extortion against many victims.
In many cases, the users of these sites and members of the associated groups overlap with each other. A lot of them consider themselves "edgy" or involved in the hacker - doxer - swatter scene. The overlay is one of misogyny, often hate for older people, white racism, antisemitism, often a promotion of swastikas, Hitler, and Nazism, and a continuous theme that the victims are to blame for the harm that has come to them. The people from these groups often label their victims as "pedos" or "rapists," common terrorizing smears meant to harm their reputations while making the victims easy targets for others. Other common denigrations include calling people "lolcows," "ni--er," and claiming that those who call for decency and civility must be crazy, stupid, or don't understand how the internet works. When you see these things on websites, you know the sort of territory you have stepped into. Another ongoing theme is that those who object to this sort of uncivilized terrorizing discourse are "thin-skinned" or even against the First Amendment or free speech.
Swatting (fake emergency calls meant to get an emergency response sent to the person) or wellness calls (similar to swats, but claiming concern for the person as a way to harass them with a visit from police) are popular methods of harassment with the people from these groups. It is all about endangering others, endangering lives, smearing reputations, harassment, stalking, invasions of privacy, and creating an overall environment of misogyny, racism, antisemitism, hate, and most of all -- danger to others.
The pattern of mass shooters and other criminals being radicalized among these groups and on these websites is finally being recognized. Finally. I have been hollering about this for years now and finally it is being officially recognized. The internet should not be a dangerous place and should not be a breeding ground for crimes.
Jim Watkins reportedly lives in the Philippines, but his website is registered in Reno, Nevada. Since his website appears to be used as part of crimes, it seems the U.S. probably has jurisdiction over him. That could become a legal question.
Owners of such websites often rely on Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act to shield them from liability for torts, such as defamation. They claim, sometimes truthfully and often not, that the harmful postings are made by third party users, not by the owners and workers on the sites. However, Section 230 does not apply to criminal acts and there is no shield protection when a website is used for crimes, even by the users of the site.
It will be interesting to see what happens. The internet should not be a breeding ground for stalkers, swatters, mass shooters, bombers, and on and on -- but it has become that. It's good to finally see Homeland Security Committee stand up.