Hate goes viral on social network sites: group

Wed May 13, 2009 3:29pm EDT
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By Claudia Parsons

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Militants and hate groups increasingly use social networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace and YouTube as propaganda tools to recruit new members, according to a report by the Simon Wiesenthal Center.

The report released on Wednesday noted a 25 percent rise in the past year in the number of "problematic" social networking groups on the Internet.

The report was based on "over 10,000 problematic Web sites, social networking groups, portals, blogs, chat rooms, videos and hate games on the Internet which promote racial violence, anti-semitism, homophobia, hate music and terrorism."

"Every aspect of the Internet is being used by extremists of every ilk to repackage old hatred, demean the 'Enemy,' to raise funds and since 9/11, recruit and train Jihadist terrorists," the Center said in a statement.

Examples of what the report calls "digital terrorism and hate" range from a Facebook group named "Death to gays" in Croatian to a YouTube video of a Koran being burned and various Web sites promoting militant groups such as Hezbollah, the Taliban, al Qaeda and Colombia's FARC.

The Jewish human rights group named for the renowned Nazi hunter has been monitoring use of the Internet by extremists for over a decade. It said the rise of social networking sites such as Facebook had accelerated the spread of racist and bigoted views in recent years.

It said Facebook officials had met with its experts and pledged to remove sites that violate its terms of usage, "but with over 200 million users, online bigots have to date outpaced efforts to remove them."

HARD TO ERADICATE   Continued...

<p>Members of a white supremacist group march under a Ku Klux Klan flag in Jena, Louisiana January 21, 2008. REUTERS/Jessica Rinaldi</p>