Online hate games that attract children to gun down illegal immigrants at the border, hunt Jews, and shoot blacks are among the thousands of extremist web sites described in a report released April 19 by an international human-rights organization.
The report by the Simon Wiesenthal Center, which has been tracking hate web sites for nine years, describes more than 200 of about 4,000 online hate sites it monitors. The report underscores the need for today’s educators to teach their students how to recognize bias and critically evaluate online information.
The group said it has seen a surge this year in the number of sites that promote terrorist recruitment, urging young people to join “holy wars” and become suicide bombers.
The report, called “Digital Terrorism & Hate 2004,” includes sites that deny the Holocaust, theorize Sept. 11 conspiracies, and glorify al-Qaida. The hate sites leave nothing out–and racism, anti-Semitism, and gay bashing are among the more common themes.
“People need to realize how much hatred there is … and the extraordinary technological advance of people who are spreading these lies,” said New York City Council Speaker Gifford Miller, who attended the news conference where the report was released.
Some of the most troubling, he said, are sites that appear to be educational, like a Martin Luther King, Jr. web site that is actually run by a racist organization. These could easily fool schoolchildren doing research, Miller said.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center uses the report to help inform parents, teachers, public officials, and law enforcement. The intent is not to interfere with free speech and shut down the sites, said Mark Weitzman, director of the center’s Task Force Against Hate.
“This is for public awareness,” Weitzman said.
The CD-ROM report includes descriptions of where the sites’ servers are located and who runs them. In some cases, that information cannot be determined.
One site that has been called the official web site of al-Qaida repeatedly changes internet addresses and registers to servers that make it impossible to track.
Simon Wiesenthal Center
Digital Terrorism & Hate 2004