'You need to hang together': Owner of 8chan releases video as site attempts to get back online
A still taken from Jim Watkin's YouTube video uploaded October 10, 2019 (Watkins Xerxes/YouTube)
TORONTO -- Jim Watkins, the owner of embattled forum website 8chan, took to YouTube on Thursday to issue a call-to-action for his site users to remain united and rant about modern American society, as he attempts to bring 8chan back online under a different name.
“I’m Jim,” Watkins says in a high pitched sing-song voice in the video introduction. He then appears to mock popular YouTube creators by requesting that his viewers “like” and “follow” him before launching into a prepared speech he reads from several sheets of paper.
“I want you all to know something,” Watkins says. “You need to hang together, because surely, you will hang separately.”
Watkins says there is only so much “nonsense” the American people will take, adding that an “active attempt to subvert American law and the filling of your coffers with ill-begotten wealth will not go unpunished.”
Watkins calls people who “sell out” their fellow Americans, “weasels” and says they are dangerous when they band together. He then accuses “foreigners” of “buying” U.S. representatives.
Meanwhile, Fredrick Brennan, who created 8chan in 2013, appears to be in an active campaign on Twitter to deny 8chan from relaunching.
Brennan created 8chan in 2013 but is no longer affiliated with the site, and has told several media outlets he regrets creating it.
“The only change I want to see is Jim Watkins eating crow and not being able to run an 8chan-style imageboard,” Brennan’s tweet from Thursday reads.
8chan was deplatformed in the wake of the El Paso shooting. It is preparing to launch again under a new name – 8kun.
On 8chan’s official Twitter account Sunday, a mini-trailer was posted showing the site’s new logo appearing wreathed in flames and emblazoned on a flag in the midst of a storm.
The “8” appears to be made out of a snake that closely resembles that of the historical “Gadsden Flag,” a symbol that has been co-opted by white nationalists and other radical groups in recent years.
Ron Watkins, son of Jim Watkins and an 8chan administrator, tweeted on Sunday that the site was “now in the final stretches before getting things back online.”
On Wednesday, the site posted a tweet asking former 8chan “board owners” to email them “with your shared secret” to migrate their content to the new site.
A “shared secret” is an account-recovery tool that allows locked out site users to use a randomly generated password to regain access to their content.
Social media activist group Sleeping Giants tweeted out a challenge Wednesday to Canadian tech company Tucows, the supposed registrar for 8kun.et, saying: “you appear to be the registrar for 8kun.net, the new site for 8chan, which has been the home screeds from three white supremacist mass shooters. Is this really a site with which you’d like to do business?”
Tucows had previously been reported to have terminated service with 8chan in August by the New York Time’s technology columnist Kevin Roose.
Tucows has not responded to CTV News.ca’s request for comment, however David Gilbert, a reporter for Vice, reported on Twitter Wednesday that Tucows called him and said this was the first they had heard about the 8kun site.
In the summer, 8chan was dropped by network provider Cloudflare after the El Paso gunman posted his “manifesto” to the site prior to committing a mass shooting in August.
Subsequent attempts by 8chan to get back online were thwarted as other companies repeatedly dropped them as a customer, citing the websites propensity to host hate speech and violent, misogynistic content.
Last month, the House Homeland Security Committee subpoenaed Jim Watkins to testify about 8chan’s role in a series of mass shootings - including the Christchurch mosque shooting in New Zealand and the Poway Synagogue shooting in California.
After a closed-door hearing, Watkins released a statement through his attorney laying out 8chan’s organization, structure and its relationship with law enforcement while vowing to implement changes to combat “illegal” hate-speech.
The House Homeland Security Committee tweeted on Tuesday that their “concerns with 8chan and its threat to spreading violent extremism, regardless of rebranding, remains the same.”