Officials expect Watkins to testify before the committee on September 5 as part of the group's ongoing oversight work on countering extremist content appearing on social media.
— Jeff Seldin (@jseldin) August 14, 2019
"Today the Committee on Homeland Security issued a subpoena to Jim Watkins, the owner of the website 8chan. In recent years, violent extremist content has proliferated on both large and small social media platforms," reads a statement issued by the committee. "At least three acts of deadly white supremacist extremist violence have been linked to 8chan in the last six months."
"We have questions on what is being done to counter this trend so we can be sure it is being properly addressed. Receiving testimony from Mr. Watkins is critical to our oversight on this matter," it adds.
The development comes days after Watkins uploaded a YouTube video in which he stated that the website was voluntarily taken down, and that it would only come back online after he appeared before the Homeland Security Committee. "I want them to understand that we have nothing to do with this crazy violence that's been happening ... I want them to understand what's been going on because it's obviously a smear by the press," he says on the video.
Watkins' site has largely been offline since internet security company Cloudflare, along with other providers, ceased working with the website after it was reported that the El Paso, Texas, gunman was allegedly inspired to commit the attack by content on the forum site.
In a statement announcing its service termination with 8chan, Cloudflare said that 8chan has "proven themselves to be lawless and that lawlessness has caused multiple tragic deaths. Even if 8chan may not have violated the letter of the law in refusing to moderate their hate-filled community, they have created an environment that revels in violating its spirit."