White Supremacist Extremists Continue to Leverage Social Media

White supremacist extremists continue to leverage social media to communicate, organize, and spread propaganda, despite the efforts of mainstream social media companies to remove extremist content from their online platforms. Following the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August 2017, Internet companies, including Google, Facebook, and Twitter, updated their approach to addressing hate speech on their platforms, resulting in the removal of white supremacist extremist accounts.  

  • In June, open-source reports indicated that coordinators of the “Unite the Right 2” rally, scheduled to occur on August 12 in Washington, DC, used Facebook Messenger to communicate with each other and organize the event. The Facebook group chat—active since at least May—discussed security, equipment setup, first aid, and potential counter-protest groups. 
  • In August 2017, a US-based web hosting company removed the Daily Stormer—a popular neo-Nazi and white supremacist extremist website—from its servers, following a derogatory article written on the website. Since its removal, the Daily Stormer maintained a presence on the Dark Web but struggled to return to the mainstream Internet until February, when it reappeaered under a new domain.
  • In 2017, Gab, a self-proclaimed “free speech social network,” contained 2.4 times the concentration of hate speech when compared to Twitter, according to a US academic study. Over the last year, Gab gained popularity among white supremacist extremists to communicate and spread propaganda online.   

For more information, please contact NJOHSP's Analysis Bureau at analysis@njohsp.gov or 609-584-4000.