Founder of controversial website 8chan still lives in the Philippines amid investigation on Texas mass shooting

August 6, 2019 - 7:50 PM
Online message board 8chan creator Fredrick Brennan gestures while sitting with a pet dog during an interview in Manila
Online message board 8chan creator Fredrick Brennan gestures while sitting with a pet dog during an interview in Manila, Philippines, August 6, 2019. (Reuters/Peter Blaza)

The previous owner and creator of 8chan, considered the message board of violent extremists, is still living in the Philippines based on his Twitter account.

Fredrick Brennan’s profile on the micro-blogging platform indicates that he lives in Quezon City and is still active with tweets on 8chan and to its current owner Jim Watkins.

Old reports surfaced online revealing details of interviews with Watkins and Brennan following the mass shooting in El Paso, Texas that killed at least 20 people last weekend.

According to an article from Splinter News in 2016, Watkins was the one who convinced Brennan to move to the Philippines and work on 8chan’s operations. Meanwhile, Watkins had been living here since 2004.

Initial investigations found that before the shooting, a user from 8chan who introduced himself as a gunman posted a four-page message or manifesto on the platform telling his “brothers” to “spread the contents far and wide.”

The persons behind previous mass shootings such as the double killings in Christchurch in New Zealand have announced their plans on the website first before executing them.

On August 4, Brennan immediately called Watkins and his son Ron to shut off the website.

He also expressed his view that the gunman’s manifesto on the site was authentic.

Ron, who also administers 8chan, is also still active on the micro-blogging platform and had been updating his followers about his attempts to bring the anonymous board back up.

His whereabouts also couldn’t be determined yet.

The website has been up and down after US-based security firm Cloudflare terminated its ties with its administrators.

“We just sent a notice that we are terminating 8chan as a customer effective at midnight tonight Pacific Time,” Cloudflare’s Chief Executive Matthew Prince said on his blog.

Following this development, Ron tweeted that “they” will be migrating to another service.

The Philippine National Police, meanwhile, just started its investigations on confirming these reports despite 8chan’s operations here for years.

Albayalde recently told reporters of his order to the Anti-Cybercrime Division to monitor 8chan.

“Depende kung hanggang saan at ano ang ginagamit niyang server o provider… Kung ano ang ma-dig natin doon, lalo na kung local, we have to conduct verification and intelligence build up,” he said.

‘Free speech platform’

Brennan, a former user of a similar website 4chan, launched 8chan in October 2013 as a “Free Speech Friendly 4chan Alternative.”

It only took off the next year after 4chan’s founder Christopher Poole started applying restrictions on the website, and some of its users transferred to Brennan’s new 8chan.

Ron was the one who first found out about him when he was interviewed at Al Jazeera America for a short documentary and later told his father.

Jim later contacted Brennan, who was then living in New York City, and discussed the possibility of working together.

The latter happened to be short in funds to keep the website running in the long run that time.

Jim and Brennan soon became business partners. Jim’s company N.T. Technology provided the domain and hardware for 8chan to work. Brennan eventually decided to move to the Philippines as well.

Later on, Jim was handed over the ownership of 8chan and had been hosting it since then.