Hate Groups Effectively Use Web as a Recruiting Tool

Going Beyond Sites and Targeting Children

But hate organizations aren't using only Web sites to reach new recruits. They have gone totally viral, easily infiltrating popular social networking sites like Facebook, Myspace, Second Life and YouTube to spread their message, according to a recent report by the Simon Wiesenthal Center.

Facebook recently garnered controversy for allowing Holocaust denier groups on its site.

"Facebook has been used as a recruiting tool," Weitzman said.

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the country had 926 active hate groups in 2008.

Many of those groups use interactive Web tools to try and lure children.

Anti-Semitic and racist games liter the Web. Weitzman said one such game allows children to shoot illegal immigrants trying to cross the Rio Grande. Using stereotypes, the game encourages users to kill and at the end a flag pops up with a Jewish Star of David.

In the beginning, this game only could be found on hate group sites, but now it's migrated to more mainstream Web sites.

The sites also are used to raise funds for the organizations through the sale of music and clothing.

Using Hate as a Research Tool

Aside from the games and the social networks, there is a more hidden way hate groups are reaching the youth.

"Then you have stuff that is a flat out attempt to rewrite reality," Weitzman said.

One Ku Klux Klan site encourages students to send in their study questions so that they can receive the true history, Weitzman said.

"We want educators to know they can't just turn kids loose on a research project," said Weitzman, who said teachers should guide students toward proper Web tools.

He said in times of economic distress, hate groups are more active.

"When the economic climate is rough, then there's usually a spiking in extremism," Weitzman said.

That, combined with the recent election of the nation's first African-American president, has made for a more vocal hate community.

"This is an unprecedented time in American history and a dangerous time because of the combination of factors," Weitzman said.

For that reason, Weitzman said people must be diligent about monitoring cyber hate, just as he has done for 20 years.

"These kinds of thoughts and ideas can be portrayed right into our home. And we have to do something about it," he said.

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