Study examines online hate

May 13, 2009 2:49:48 PM PDT
A new study is serving as a wake-up call about just what some people are posting online. The Simon Wiesenthal Center released a report Wednesday looking at a big jump in the number of Web sites talking about everything from digital terrorism to hate.

What started as one hate site in 1995 has ballooned into more than 10,000. And now, extremist are heading into uncharted territory. Like chameleons, they're constantly changing, seeking out the most popular Web sites.

One such site offers a twisted version of the game Pac-Man, in which a Nazi goes after a Jew, eating a swastika. And in the end, the Jew disappears.

It's one of countless postings on the web uncovered by officials at the center, a Jewish rights organization.

It is titled "Digital Terrorism and Hate," and students from Independence High School saw the report. They are kids who admit they to have come face to face with hate.

"I know people who are neo-Nazis, and they didn't know nothing about it," one student said. "And they rap it, because they think it's cool."

Rabbi Abraham Cooper and his team poured over more than 10,000 Web sites, blogs and chat rooms, and what they found was astonishing.

The racist chatter is coming from, they say, is coming from social networking sites like Facebook, YouTube and MySpace. In the past year, there has been a 30 percent increase in new postings on Facebook.

"Because they target primarily young people, there is a sub-culture of terror and hate online that has to be exposed, combated and marginalized," Cooper said.

Facebook assured folks at the center they do have specific rules in place that bar attacks on individuals and groups, and that teams are enforcing those rules, even going as far as removing hateful material and related accounts.

"The bad new is when you have 200 million users worldwide, coming in from Lebanon and Belgium and across the Americas, haven't yet been able to get ahead of the curve," Cooper said.

It is a challenge since extremists are constantly changing and seeking out the most popular technology to spread their message. Still, this generation is not easily fooled.

"You have to take certain actions to avoid it," student Emin Jakupi said. "Like sending it to higher-ranking people, like the government."

The report will now be distributed be law enforcement agencies both locally and abroad, including officials with the NYPDs hate crime unit.

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WEB PRODUCED BY: Bill King


NEW YORK AND TRI-STATE AREA NEWS

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