8chan owner says El Paso shooter didn’t post manifesto

8chan owner Jim Watkins

8chan owner Jim Watkins says the alleged shooter didn’t post the manifesto to his site. 

Screenshot by The Techy Trends

Instagram said Tuesday that a hate-filled manifesto linked to the El Paso shooter wasn’t uploaded to the Facebook-owned photo-sharing site as suggested by the owner of a fringe message board where the document was initially discovered.

A spokeswoman for Facebook said it disabled an Instagram account tied to the suspected gunman on Saturday. The account hadn’t been active for more than a year, she said. 

Instagram is working with law enforcement, she said, and she directed any additional questions to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The FBI declined to comment.  

The statement comes after Jim Watkins, the owner of the 8chan message board, suggested in a YouTube video that the document had been loaded to his site by a different user. Watkins, who appeared in front of an image of Benjamin Franklin, said the site had made law enforcement “aware” of the manifesto when it appeared. 

He also suggested — but didn’t state — that the gunman, who killed 22 in the attack at a Walmart store, had posted the document to Instagram.

“First of all, the El Paso shooter posted on Instagram, not 8chan,” Watkins said in the video. “Later, someone uploaded the manifesto. However, that manifesto was not uploaded by the Walmart shooter. I don’t know if he wrote it or not, but it was not uploaded by the murderer; that is clear.”

8chan, an anonymous forum, is a magnet for trolls, who delight in racist, sexist and politically incorrect humor. Watkins’ video was titled “Sorry for the inconvenience, common sense will prevail” an apparent reference to the title of the 2,300-word manifesto, which was called “The Inconvenient Truth.”

The House of Representatives Committee on Homeland Security’s Twitter account posted Tuesday a request for Watkins to appear in front of Congress. Rep. Bennie Thompson, a Democrat from Missouri and chairman of the committee, and Rep. Mike Rogers, a Republican from Michigan, penned the letter and referenced the El Paso mass shooting as “at least the third act of white supremacist extremist violence” linked to the site. 

“Experts have described 8chan as a platform for amplifying extremist views, leading to the radicalization of its users,” the representatives said in the letter. “Americans deserve to know what, if anything, you, as the owner and operator, are doing to address the proliferation of extremist content on 8chan.”

Since the discovery of the manifesto, 8chan has lost technical support from services such as security platform Cloudflare. The site went down early Monday. At the time, a tweet from the site’s official account said it’d be down for 24 to 48 hours. 8chan isn’t currently available. 

Fredrick Brennan, 8chan’s founder, who’s no longer associated with the site, told The New York Times on Sunday that the site needs to be shut down. “It’s not doing the world any good,” he told The Times. “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.”

Earlier this year, the gunman who attacked two New Zealand mosques and the gunman who attacked a California synagogue posted their manifestos to 8chan.

Watkins and administrators for 8chan didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Originally published, Aug. 6, 6:59 a.m. PT.
Updates, 7:10 a.m.: Adds FBI’s response; 11:43 a.m.: Includes Facebook’s response; 3:28 p.m.:  Reorganized, and adds letter from Homeland Security committee.