Release of Simon Wiesenthal Center – Facebook, YouTube +: How Social Media Outlets Impact Digital Terrorism and Hate (Museum of Tolerance New York 5/13/09)

Release of Simon Wiesenthal Center – Facebook, YouTube +: How Social Media Outlets Impact Digital Terrorism and Hate (Museum of Tolerance New York 5/13/09)

With over one and a half billion users (almost one quarter of the world’s population - 23.8% to be exact), the Internet is the prime means of communication and marketing in the world. The Internet’s unprecedented global reach and scope combined with the difficulty in monitoring and tracing communications make it the prime tool for extremists and terrorists. The Simon Wiesenthal Center has been monitoring these developments for over a decade through our Digital Terrorism and Hate Project.

Facebook, YouTube +: How Social Media Outlets Impact Digital Terrorism and Hate confirm that as the Internet has grown, the escalation of extremist sites has kept pace in number and in technological sophistication.

In April 1995, the first extremist website went online: Today, the Wiesenthal Center’s Digital Hate and Terrorism project identifies some 10,000 problematic hate and terrorist websites, hate games and other internet postings. 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. This user-generated material increases the viral spread of extremism online and aids in increasing the social acceptability of hate in mainstream discourse. By creating an environment where users are equal participants in the Web, all editorial functions are removed and expressions of hate can easily flow unchallenged. Jews, Catholics, Muslims, Hindus, gays, women and immigrants are some of the most targeted groups

The greatest increase of digital hate has emerged from Facebook and YouTube have seen a proliferation of extremist use, with 30% of new postings on Facebook alone—with the greatest increase coming from overseas, particularly Europe and the Middle East. Facebook officials have met with the SWC and pledged to remove sites that violate their terms of usage. But with over 200 million users, online bigots have to date outpaced efforts to remove them. Some sites have thousands of friends, thus enabling the message of hate to spread virally. These social networking sites have become so prevalent that some ‘traditional’ hate groups have begun to develop their own versions, such as New Saxon, "a Social Networking site for people of European descent" produced by a traditional American Neo-Nazi group (National Socialist Movement).

Another hate site, Stormfront (generally considered the first online hate site, starting in 1995) uses their Facebook page to connect thousands of visitors to their main website. The UK considers Stormfront’s founder Don Black so dangerous that he was recently among 16 extremists barred from entering Britain

The continued presence of games that perpetuate stereotypes and celebrate violence—aimed at young people-- have begun to seep into the mainstream, where they are either hosted or reviewed on regular gaming sites (Nerd Nirvana, uGoto, Ubersite and more)..

Facebook Holocaust Denial Controversy

In recent days, Facebook has removed a number of Holocaust Denial sites. Perhaps the most outrageous includes a cartoon of Hitler in bed with Anne Frank, posted from Lebanon (which is in the Wiesenthal Center’s 2009 report) - see below.












Some of the extremist groups using Facebook include Stormfront, National Socialist Life, Libertarian National Social Movemen, Aryan Guard, FARC, Al Shabab Mujahideen, Hamas (Multiple), Hezbollah (multiple), Faloja Forum, Support Taliban, Support Taliban and scores of anti-Israel sites.

Facebook plans to continue working with the Center on this issue as indicated in a May 12, 2009 statement, "Many of the groups or pages that were shown to us by the Simon Wiesenthal Center earlier this year as part of their study had already been removed under Facebook’s rules. We are committed to continuing this practice, and to working with those who fight hate like the Simon Wiesenthal Center."

Download highlights of the report presented at the Museum of Tolerance New York....