PHILIPPINE National Police Chief General Oscar Albayalde on Tuesday, August 6, said they are verifying that controversial website 8chan is operated in the Philippines.
8chan is an online messaging board that has been used by anonymous users to share extremist messages. Prior to the mass shooting in El Paso, Texas that killed 22 people and injured 24 others over the weekend, a user identifying himself as a gunman posted a four-page message encouraging his “brothers” on the site to spread the contents far and wide.
According to Albayalde, he has ordered the Anti-Cybercrime Division to monitor 8chan, after reports said its owner Jim Watkins and top administrator Ron Watkins are residing in the country.
He also said that shutting down the website is possible, depending on what the anti-cybercrime operatives find against the father and son duo.
“It depends on what server or provider they are using. We have to conduct verification and intelligence build up based on the findings, especially if it is operated locally,” the PNP chief said during a media briefing.
8chan was launched in 2013 by Fredrick Brennan as an alternative to 4chan after policies deterring gamers from posting personal information and planning attacks were implemented on the site.
U.S. Army veteran Jim Watkins, who was already then residing in Manila, offered assistance to Brennan after 8chan kept on going offline due to exceeded bandwidth limits or offensive content.
In 2014, Brennan accepted Watkins’ offer and moved to the Philippines to work with him. A year later, he gave Watkins full control over the site.
The New York Times on Sunday released an article about Brennan, who stopped working with Watkins in 2018, demanding 8chan’s closure.
“Shut the site down. It’s not doing the world any good. It’s a complete negative to everybody except the users that are there. And you know what? It’s a negative to them, too. They just don’t realize it,” Brennan said in an interview.
Watkins, on the other hand, resisted the calls to moderate or shut down the site.