Neo-Nazis are increasingly using social networks to recruit young people, spreading often skillfully disguised right-wing extremist propaganda via Facebook and YouTube.
Neo-Nazis have always used the Internet as a platform for propaganda. But for some time now, they have been turning to social networks like Facebook for a more direct approach.
"For right-wing extremists, interactive networks are a perfect recruitment platform because they are particularly popular with young people," said Stefan Glaser, head of the division on right-wing extremism at jugendschutz.net, a state-financed German group for the protection of minors.
The organization scours the Internet for criminal content and content which could be harmful to minors. Increasingly, they are finding it on social networks. "In many cases, content on Facebook and YouTube has completely replaced classic websites," the group said in its 2011 report.
Most right-wing extremist violations nowadays take place in these new forums: apparently, neo-Nazis feel less threatened by prosecution when operating in social networks, according to jugendschutz.net inspectors.
The advantages are obvious. "Here, extreme right-wing content can be presented to a broad public," Glaser told DW. Often, the neo-Nazi core of the message is obscured. Neo-Nazis also resort to emotional and popular issues to lure young people, to get their attention and generate spontaneous approval. Many users quickly click on their "like" or "share" buttons on content where, for instance, protecting children from sexual abuse is concerned.
With thousands of clicks, such campaigns take on more weight and spread at a frantic pace - such as a recent right-wing extremist music video on child abuse that received almost one million hits on YouTube.
Only on closer inspection do the racist and anti-democratic opinions characteristic of the neo-Nazi perspective become apparent.
Should jugendschutz.net inspectors find such illegal content, they try to have it deleted as soon as possible, as long as Internet service providers are willing. In 2011, jugendschutz.net counted more than 970 deletions on various social networks.
But much right-wing content is often uploaded again soon after deletion, said Glaser - and this is where service providers must take responsibility. Technically, it should be possible to identify and prevent the uploading of this oft identical content, he said.
Author: Nina Werkhäuser / db
Editor: Martin Kuebler