Via CBSDFW.COM | Interview By Brian New – A day after a hate-filled screed allegedly linked to the El Paso mass murder suspect was posted on the website 8chan, the controversial site was knocked offline.
The web security service Cloudflare announced it was pulling 8chan’s access. However on Tuesday, 8chan’s owner, Jim Watkins, said in video posted on YouTube his company is working to restore service.
“It is unfortunate that this place of free speech has temporarily been removed,” Watkins said.
8chan is an online message board with a history of being used by violent extremists.
The El Paso shooting is the third instance this year where a shooter allegedly posted to the site before going on their rampage. The shooting suspect in the attack on the New Zealand mosques as well as the gunman in a mass shooting at a synagogue in California also posted to the message board prior to their attack.
Watkins said in his seven minute video he feels as if his site is being unfairly blamed, claiming the El Paso suspect was not the one who posted the manifesto on 8chan.
“First of all the El Paso shooter posted it on Instagram, not 8chan,” he said. “Later someone else uploaded the manifesto. However, that manifesto was not uploaded by the Walmart shooter.”
Instagram on Tuesday disputed that claim. The Facebook-owned company told CNET the manifesto was not uploaded Instagram.
Instagram said it disabled an account associated with the suspect which had not have been active in more than a year.
Both Instagram and 8chan said they are working with the FBI. The FBI declined to comment.
8chan, a free-speech forum deprived of censorship, has become home to violent extremist groups who were kicked off other sites.
On 8chan, users can post anonymously often with little fear of being identified by law enforcement.
Dr. Bhavani Thuraisingham, executive director of UT Dallas Cyber Security Research, said the appeal of 8chan for extremists groups is its levels of encryption.
“They use not just single encryption but double, triple, quadruple so they encrypt it many times.”
Thuraisingham said this makes it hard for law enforcement to figure out where posted threats are coming from.
“It’s not impossible in the sense that if you had a million years you might be able to do that,” she explained. “But the whole challenge is to apply the decryption tools in a certain amount of time.”
8chan was created in 2013 by computer programmer Fredrick Brennan. The founder recently told The New York Times he wants to see the site taken down.
Watkins took control of 8chan in 2015. Now living in the Philippines, Watkins spent twenty years in U.S. Army where he learned computers. His first startup was a porn website.