Neo-Nazis and other anti-Semites and racists are using the Internet to recruit new members, get their message out, and open new channels of communication among sympathizers. One young neo-Nazi supporter in Minnesota, in fact, has recently become a self-appointed, virtual one-man recruiting engine for several hate groups.
The Internet, a worldwide collection of computers linked by high-speed phone lines, is a central feature of the information revolution of our time. Driven by the growth of the World Wide Web (a method of linking information on computers anywhere in the world) and the development of easy- to-use “Web-browser” programs, (that simplify access to information on these computers) Internet use is expanding rapidly.
In the United States and Canada, approximately 37 million people, or 17 per-cent of the population 16 years or older, have access to the Net. About 24 million of this group have used the Net in the past three months. And this is just the beginning; usage continues to expand and the number of Web sites (the computer locations where information providers store their material) is currently doubling every three months. Clearly, the Internet is the “in” place for communicating personal, political and profit- making messages.
Businesses frantically look for opportunities on the Net, while magazine covers proclaim the rush to “cybergold”; the stock market is bullish on Internet- related companies. Not surprisingly the opportunity to reach so many people, so easily, so inexpensively, is attracting neo-Nazis and other bigots, in addition to ordinary people.
Many extremist groups are on the Web; the neo Nazi National Alliance and a covey of supporters, racist Skinhead purveyors of “Aryan” music, some rabidly anti-Semitic ” Identity” churches, groups sympathetic to the KKK and several Holocaust deniers have sites. These efforts represent a well-thought-out campaign to reach more people than these groups could ever have previously contacted though traditional mailings, handouts and demonstrations. The World Wide Web, the newest Internet technology, is an ideal merchandising tool.