21/3/2011- Bigots have ramped up sharply on Facebook, YouTube and other social media, with very anti-social aims -- including racism, anti-Semitism, homophobia and Islamophobia -- according to a new report on the topic. "They come for all the reasons everyone else does," Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, said during a recent visit to South Florida. "For bigots, it's a way to reach the mainstream with its message." Cooper was sharing the results of "Digital Hate," an annual report issued by the Los Angeles-based center. The 13th annual report analyzes the spread of prejudice over blogs, message boards and other new media. The rabbi was in South Florida to share the material with religious leaders, alerting them on what to watch for. He plans to return in mid-April to brief law enforcement officers and political leaders, he said. And he has plenty to share.
The current report counts 14,000 sites, up from 11,500 just last year. They're run by everything from Klansmen to neo-Nazis to radical Muslims to Bulgarian, Japanese and other nationalist extremists. And they're increasingly using otherwise legitimate sites like Twitter, MediaFire, even eBay. The report says "Arrahmah.com" uses the Flickr.com photo-sharing site to post free wallpapers, or desktop computer pictures, glorifying the three terrorists who bombed a nightclub in Bali in 2002. They even spoof or imitate other sites, the Wiesenthal researchers have found. "Real Zionist News" looks like a Jewish newsfeed, but the articles instead say Jews control the White House and are attacking Christianity worldwide. That's a standard theme of anti-Semites: that Jews control nations from behind the scenes. "800 Pound Gorilla," which uses the Wordpress blogging site, blames Jews for the terrorist attacks of 9-11. The site also denies the Holocaust and connects Kaballah with Freemasonry.
Bigots also have their own music stars. Alcoholocaust is best known for its black-hating and Jew-hating song "Joo Slaughter," posted on YouTube. People Haters produced "Day of the Rope," which adds gays to the death-wish list -- to a background of giggling children. The "subculture of hate," as the Wiesenthal Center calls it, includes hate games. "Ethnic Cleansing" lets a player hunt blacks, Jews and Hispanics. And in an Iranian version of the old game "Snakes and Ladders," the snakes bear British and Israeli flags and Obama's face, the Wiesenthal report says. Distortions even creep onto otherwise legitimate sites. Answering-christianity.com, which tries to persuade Christians to become Muslims, says the whole United States is the Antichrist. The site also argues that the 9-11 terrorist attack was an "inside terrorist job" of the U.S. and the Mossad, the Israeli spy agency. The Wiesenthal report also notes a rise in online attacks against religious and ethnic communities.
"Bulgarian National Union" is an anti-immigrant, anti-gypsy and homophobic group, the Wiesenthal Center says. "Zaitokukai" focuses Japanese resentment against Koreans, Chinese and Christians in Japan. The group has grown almost purely through the web, Cooper says. And the hate often goes beyond words. Several sites offer instructions for making poisons, explosives and cell phone detonators. "Black Tearful Days," a posting in December on several jihadist sites, has diagrams showing how to place bombs in a vest and an SUV. "If you believe in religious freedom, you're committed to a world in which families should be able to go to prayers and return to their homes without fear of intimidation or violence," Cooper said.
Computers themselves become weapons. Members of a group based in Algeria, Turkey and Morocco say they hacked several Israeli websites, including jerusalemonline.com, the Wiesenthal report says. Reposting on the Al Qassam forum, they showed pictures and propaganda that they'd planted. Cooper shares the "Digital Hate" report not only with local groups, but also the FBI and Homeland Security. The group's website, wiesenthal.com, also sells the CD to the public for $20. Finally, the Internet can police itself, the rabbi says. Social site managers can ban users who violate terms-of-service-agreements, which usually cover bigotry. Once alerted, Facebook took down "Burn a Jew Day," "Kill a Jew Day" and "Kill a Jew Year." The site has also removed pages by Canadian neo-Nazi Kevin Goudreau. Each time, however, Goudreau simply starts another page -- more than 20 times thus far. Cooper smiles. "Facebook is our biggest problem and our biggest ally."
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