Hate Group Recruitment on the InterNet: Conclusion


The USENET is gigantic: there are thousands of newsgroups with an enormous total readership. Its size and easy access almost inevitably would attract KleimKaldenbergWhite Aryan Resistance leader Tom Metzger and a cadre of others determined to spread their message of hate, anger and resentment. It is clear they are eager to proselytize and the Net is an attractive platform. How successful they will be is less clear.

The Web sites can record the number of people who access the home page but outsiders cannot. Even counting the number of “hits,” or contacts, made with the site would not provide the number of new members that each site generates. The relatively low cost of maintaining a Web page makes it possible to “show the flag” even if the harvest of new members is low.

There is no doubt that the neo-Nazis have used the Internet to stir racial antagonism. Yet, these white-nationalist postings have also generated a vociferous backlash. Anti-racists, anti-fascists and “ordinary” people posted many replies, some equally strident, on the alt.fan.oj-simpson group. So even if they did not recruit many new followers, the National Alliance and its supporters managed to stir up racially polarizing rhetoric.

Again, it is too soon to tell if this recruitment strategy will work. What we do know is that the neo-Nazis and their fellow-travelers have decided that the action is on the Internet. The haters realize they can leave their traditional hangouts and set up temporary recruiting posts anywhere on the Net, try to pick up new recruits and stir up even more hatred and distrust.

The message is clear: The Internet is an important new communications tool used equally by the good and the ugly. It must be continuously monitored as another means of countering messages of u hate with information that exposes bigotry and promotes tolerance and decency.