US Nazi supporters move to Russian social media after Facebook ban

US Nazi supporters move to Russian social media after Facebook banFollowing violence at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, last weekend, Facebook began taking down all positive mentions of an article by the Daily Stormer, a neo-Nazi website, attacking the woman who was killed protesting the rally. But while the site has been banned from Facebook, far-right users continued to post on a Daily Stormer group on VK, Russia's most popular social network. “Cloudflare just dropped us,” the Daily Stormer VK group posted on Wednesday, referring to the Internet security company that protects sites from cyber attacks. “We'll have to build an alternative.” White nationalists and far-right activists from Western countries have increasingly been moving to VK, also known as VKontakte, where they don't face the same censorship as on social media like Facebook. Charlottesville far-right protest Of the 97 major neo-Nazi, white nationalist and racist skinhead organisations on the Southern Poverty Law Centre's list of US hate groups, The Telegraph found VK groups matching at least nine of them, with members that appeared to be American. There were also more than 50 VK groups named after the Ku Klux Klan, although many of them appear to be run by Russian fans. According to the news site Meduza, more than 100 nationalist groups on VK have members from the United States, Germany, Sweden and other Western countries. Membership on the most popular of these groups numbers in the thousands. A far-right user who identified himself as Henry from Houston told Meduza that moving from Facebook to VK was becoming a “trend” among nationalists trying to avoid censorship. He's started two VK groups already with a total membership of 550. “You can't even write a post about Adolph Hitler” on Facebook, he complained. In contrast, on the Daily Stormer page and other VK groups, users have continued merrily posting racist slurs and threats. Dropped by its US domain registrar, the Daily Stormer also tried to relaunch its website under a Russian domain name, but this too was soon suspended. Asked about VK's apparent lack of censorship, a spokesman said the social network is “against calls for atrocities and violence” and deletes materials that include them. Russian authorities have been increasingly fining and even imprisoning social media users under a vague law against extremism, but many of these people have been convicted for criticising Russia's intervention in Ukraine. Law enforcement here most likely wouldn't be able to bring Americans to court on similar charges, however.



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