Extremist Hate Groups Expand Via Facebook Recruiting

By Meredith Singer Comment

The English Defense League, the far-right group Norway gunman Anders Behring Breivik mentioned as an inspiration had less than 50 members two years ago. Now social networking sites like Facebook have helped the group grow to more han 10,000 members.

(The group’s Facebook page has more than 6,800 followers.)

The group is a street protest movement that opposes what it perceives as the spread of Islamic extremism in England, according to The Guardian.

But EDL’s leaders say they didn’t want more supporters and fans to mean the spread of more violence.

EDL leader Stephen Lennon told the Associated Press:

I knew that social networking sites were the way to go. But to say that we inspired this lunatic to do what he did is wrong. We’ve never once told our supporters its alright to go out and be violent.

A Facebook profile bearing Breivik’s name was taken down shortly after the attacks last week, although it’s possible that someone other than the shooter created the page.

Investigators said they haven’t found any links of concern between Breivik and far right British groups such as the EDL. Extremists tend to favor online chat sites but are increasingly turning to social media to gain followers and spread their message, AP said. And often, extreme fans tend to use multiple sites.

But Facebook remains the most popular social network so it’s not surprising that several of the email addresses Breivik sent his 1,516-page manifesto to hours before the Oslo bombing matched Facebook profiles of people flaunting neo-Nazi or ultra-nationalist symbols.

But, as we know too well, Facebook is pretty vigilant about halting cyber-crime and violence. Any content that violates their policies, including hateful content, threats and pornography is usually taken down — and quickly.

Readers, what do you think the Facebook community can do to help prevent violence from spreading.