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Growth of White Supremacists on the Internet

NCJ Number
Chris Sharp
Date Published
14 pages
This paper explores the use of the Internet to disseminate racist information and to encourage the growth of hate groups.
As the Internet population continues to grow by about 10 to 15 percent each month, the proliferation of racist Web sites also grows. Some estimates place the number of racist Web sites at approximately 600 known sites on the Internet. The author reviews previous research about how the technological age has changed the face of racist groups, making them more clandestine and decentralized. The Internet allows cells of racist hate groups to operate independently of one another, with a central authority structure lacking. This, in turn, makes it more difficult for law enforcement to investigate hate groups and make arrests. In many cases, small cells working independently may not know much about central leadership, effectively halting law enforcement efforts to dismantle hate groups by arresting key leaders. Another dilemma concerning the proliferation of Internet hate groups is that information is easily disseminated to a much larger population at a minimal cost. Freedom of speech rights protect such groups, so long as they are not making threats or committing crimes via the Internet. Thus, policing hate speech on the Internet become impossible for police for two main reasons: first, the Internet is so large that policing it takes a lot of resources; and, second, the First Amendment significantly protects work printed on the Internet. For these reasons, the Internet has assisted in the proliferation of all types of hate groups both in the United States and transnationally. Bibliography