Instagram is becoming the platform of choice among far right hate groups, as they actively target younger people. That’s the alarming finding of a new report from Hope Not Hate.
Entitled ‘State of Hate’, the report shows how a year of lockdown as influenced hate groups in the UK. Restrictions had seen them move from the states into the digital world, found the report, with some such as The British Hand and the National Partisan movement using the Facebook owned platform to recruit members, as well as other messaging apps such as Telegram.
“Though we continue to warn about niche platforms like Telegram, a fertile recruitment ground for young neo-Nazis has been Instagram – its inadequate moderation and worrying algorithm recommendations are child protection issues that demand urgent action from the platform.”
The make up of far right activism has evolved during lockdown. Older groups have been left behind in favour of a new generation of digitally savage groups promoting their ideology through games, social media voice chats, online film clubs and even home schooling.
“The British far right is now digitally led and reflective of online culture – traditional structures have given way to social media platforms, influencers and ‘citizen journalists’ creating peer-to-peer radicalisation and a global community willing to crowd source ‘micro-donations’ of time and effort.”
The last year has seen a slew of convictions for hate, with half coming from younger people. Last month a 13 year old from South East Cornwall was handed a rehabilitation order after pleading guilty to 12 offenses including 10 of possessing terrorist material and two of disseminating terrorist documents.
The child, who cannot be named for legal reasons, led a neo-Nazi cell from his Grandmother’s house.
Cases like this highlight the growing danger to young people of far-right extremism on leading social media sites. Although much has been done to combat the spread of extremism on social media, this report shows far right groups have adapted.
They have been emboldened during the last year, with COVID denialism and Black Lives Matter contributing to the emergence of an increasingly overt white nationalism. With the help of social media, they have spread misinformation and conspiracy theories which are increasingly taking hold.
The report found that 20% people think there is some truth in the idea that coronavirus is a bioweapon spread by the Chinese State, while 21% think there is some truth in the rumour that COVID 19 is part of an intentional depopulation plan by the UN or New World Order.
Hope Not Hates polling has also shown a growth in antisemitic and racist tropes. In September 17% of people agreed with the statement that “jews have disproportionate control of powerful institutions and use that power for their own benefit and against the good of the general population”. In April, the figure was 13%.