Extremists Begin to Utilize Twitter to Broadcast Message

  • July 30, 2009

Starting in the spring of 2009, a number of right-wing extremist groups and individuals have begun using Twitter, a popular new Internet messaging tool, to broadcast their racist and anti-Semitic views. Twitter users write short lines of text up to 140 characters in length, called "tweets" by the service's creators, which allow users to broadcast short messages quickly to a number of people at once.

The service began in 2006 and has become increasingly popular over the past year, with various mainstream media outlets reporting on the growth of Twitter. Extremists have now begun to catch on to the technology, and may look to use it more in the future.

Examples of extremists who use Twitter include:

  • Don Black the creator of Stormfront, America's largest white supremacist Internet forum, joined Twitter in May 2009, and since that time has been a frequent user of the service. Nearly all of his more than 1,000 posts are links back to user-generated forum topics on Stormfront, often with a racist or anti-Semitic theme. For example, in June 2009, Black wrote, "Little White Girl and Mom Killed by Illegal Wetback" and linked to a Stormfront topic of the same name. That same month, a tweet linked to a Stormfront post espousing Holocaust denial.
  • Thomas Robb, a Ku Klux Klan (KKK) and Christian Identity leader, has been posting to Twitter since April 2009. There, he updates followers on his work on "Victory Report," his monthly newsletter, and other white supremacist activity. For example, in June, 2009, Robb tweeted that he was working on a sermon entitled "America's White Identity." At the same time, Robb also updates followers on the mundane details of his life, like when he mows his lawn, in the same manner as many other Twitter users.
  • The National Policy Institute (NPI,) a self-styled racist think-tank based in Augusta, Georgia, began using Twitter in May 2009. Nearly all of NPI's tweets since that time have directed users to the group's blog, where it posts content of interest to individuals with racist beliefs from throughout the Internet. Recently, much of this content has focused on the British National Party (BNP), a far-right political party in England that recently won two seats to the European Parliament. NPI has posted a number of videos produced by BNP supporting the party and its leader, Nick Griffin, to its blog and links to these posts on its Twitter account.
  • Jeff Schoep, the leader of the National Socialist Movement, the country's largest neo-Nazi group, began using Twitter in May 2009. Schoep has used the service sparingly, since then, usually to promote interviews he has given to mainstream media sources like CNN. His Twitter account is named nsm88. (The letter "H" is the eighth letter of the alphabet. Neo-Nazis commonly use the number 88 as shorthand for "Heil Hitler.")
  • Glenn Spencer, head of the American Border Patrol, a virulently anti-Hispanic group, has been using Twitter since May 2009. Spencer is a frequent user of the service, focusing many of his tweets on reports of crimes committed by undocumented immigrants in an effort to portray them as generally criminal