The Consequences of Right-Wing Extremism on the Internet
Creating Electronic Community of Hate
The Internet has provided the far-right fringe with
formerly inconceivable opportunities. Online, racists, anti-Semites,
and anti-government extremists can reach a much larger audience than
ever before and can more easily portray themselves as
Anyone using the Internet may inadvertently be
exposed to hate online. When uninformed or easily influenced people
– particularly children – come across hate propaganda, they can
fall prey to its deceptive reasoning and adopt hateful beliefs
themselves, sometimes going so far as to act on what they have read.
Gauging the affects of online hate on this vast population of
Internet users presents enormous difficulties. No reliable measurement
has been taken of the number of Internet users who find and read
hateful material online. Nor can one safely generalize about the ways
in which this material affects the beliefs and actions of those who
read it. Yet there is a subset of this enormous group of Internet
users about whom substantial information does exist: known, active,
Though the number of active right-wing extremists is relatively
small, the harm they can cause is significant. By spreading their
views, racists, anti-Semites, and anti-government "patriots"
encourage and sustain prejudice in the mainstream. In addition, these
extremists are often ready to break the law in support of their
The Internet has provided the means for extremists to create an
"electronic community of hate." In the Internet age,
extremists are no longer isolated from others who share their beliefs.
Now, they can communicate with thousands of their compatriots with the
click of a mouse, from the comfort of their own homes. Just as it has
benefited millions of ordinary people, the Internet has profited,
connected, and inspired extremists in previously unimaginable ways.
This report will detail three important, measurable respects in
which the "electronic community of hate" strengthens the
work of right-wing extremists offline. First of all, the Internet has
provided them with instant and anonymous access to propaganda
that inspires and
guides criminal activity. Secondly, it has helps them to more effectively
coordinate their activities. Finally, it offers them new
ways to make money.
These, then, are actual, measurable consequences of right-wing
extremism on the Internet and should be of concern to us all.