Earlier this week, a new report from Mother Jones revealed an early pusher of the QAnon conspiracy theory, which claims that the US government is secretly controlled by a group of Satanic child-trafficking cannibals, once himself ran a website featuring  illegal child sexual exploitation, and opposed warnings to clean it up.

via Twitter / @MotherJones

Jim Watkins, the owner of the website 8chan, an influential QAnon site, managed content moderation at a different site that had the exploitative content.

From the Mother Jones piece, by Ari Breland:

“Over the years, Watkins and his team took special steps to keep the Q posts coming and purportedly verify their provenance, ensuring the poster’s continued access to their followers. While 8chan’s historic association with child sexual abuse material is familiar to close observers of the QAnon conspiracy, Mother Jones has reviewed a little-known archive documenting conversations in the moderation channel of Pink, an earlier internet forum, that capture Watkins, the site’s administrator, pushing for a hands-off approach to the moderation of child porn-related content there.”

Qanon image via Flickr / Mike MacKenzie https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Breland continued:

“Entries in the archive, created between 2004 and 2018, show he was slow to address concerns about child pornography and sometimes dismissed advice from moderators seeking to stop the spread of potentially illegal content. They repeatedly record moderators of Watkins’ forum coming to him for advice on how to handle issues related to child sex abuse material and pedophilic content, and Watkins responding with blasé indifference.”

One case saw a moderator ask Watkins to admit he did not care if Pink was “viewed as dating service or child porn exchange BBS” because volume of the content, to which Watkins responded, “Let me drink some coffee before I read this deeply.”

In another case, a moderator asked if he could delete a thread on the site titled “Rape scene of a primary school student.” Watkins told him to leave it up because there were no actual links in the thread. Except there were links, and Watkins relented when that was pointed out to him.

QAnon image via Flickr / Mike MacKenzie https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Watkins also once fired a moderator for removing pictures of children in sexually explicit positions (but not nude) after complaints from some users.

Ron Watkins, Jim’s son, has been accused of being one of the anonymous authors of the original “Q” posts, though he denies it. Ron Watkins is a candidate for Congress in Arizona, using ties to some state Republicans, like gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake, who is backed by former President Donald Trump.

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Christopher Powell