As major internet platforms try to halt the dissemination of toxic content, Watkins’ site has become an essential tool for those trying to spread it.
When Ted Kaczynski, the terrorist and triple murderer known as the “Unabomber”, wanted the world to read his thoughts, he demanded that the New York Times and Washington Post publish his 35,000 word “manifesto” or he would send a bomb “with intent to kill”. The newspapers weighed the decision for three months, despite the threat. When they finally decided to publish at the recommendation of the US attorney general and Federal Bureau of Investigation, the terrorist screed was packaged with context and analysis.
Twenty-four years later, white nationalist terrorists can skip the blackmail and go directly to 8chan to attain notoriety, spread their ideas and inspire copycats. In the first 24 hours after the live-streamed massacre of 51 Muslim worshippers in Christchurch, New Zealand, in March, Facebook removed 1.5m copies of the video.