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Hitler’s Presence Online

Michelle Yabes, Brandeis Blog

January 28, 2016

The Israeli Students Combating Anti-Semitism (ISCA), a project by The National Union of Israeli Students (NUIS), recently released a media report examining Adolf Hitler’s presence online. They noted that glorifying Hitler is “a widespread trend” on the internet, with a wide range of content promoting Hitler’s ideology readily available on national-socialist, neo-Nazi, and white supremacist websites, as well as on social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, and Instagram.

ISCA stated that such websites not only “glorify Hitler through History,” but also “draw a complete outline of Hitler’s ideology, interpreting Hitler’s thought and presenting him as a visionary”, in addition to providing their visitors with “alternative ideological tools to understand and interpret the present.”

There are many such websites online, each aiming to perpetuate Hitler’s hateful ideology by glorifying it and by attempting to “educate” their visitors with biased, distorted information by claiming freedom of speech. Many of the sites noted by ISCA as examples in their report praised Hitler and his ideology, one site claiming him to be an “inspiration” and another listing 10 reasons why he was “one of the good guys.” In addition, ISCA also noted that some of the websites, “often related to far-right or neo-fascist movements”, are dedicated to the merchandising of Nazi and Hitler’s “souvenirs.” Such “relics” include Nazi paraphernalia, pins and flags, and other such merchandising consists of copies of Mein Kampf and other books and DVDs supporting Hitler’s ideology, clothing with various Nazi inspired emblems, and a even a bust of Hitler.

Such bigoted content is not limited to lone websites, and is also present in various social networking platforms. ISCA noted that Facebook, being the largest social networking site, has a multitude of pages and profiles that are “racist or promote racial hatred.” These pages can be public group pages or personal profiles. While Facebook does offer its “community of users the possibility to report such pages and profiles so the network deletes them”, they do not catch or delete everything so one can still find content glorifying Hitler and the Nazis on the site. When these pages or profiles are eventually deleted, there is the problem that the creator of the page or profile can easily re-create it.

ISCA found that Twitter has a much more lenient policy “regarding the content posted by its users”, and therefore found “even more racist, antisemitic, and Hitler glorifying content on this social network”. One profile that frequently published antisemitic tweets, and who also used handle @DictatorHitler, was noting as having almost 400,000 direct followers. Another profile ISCA cited, (@TGSNTtv), was created by “the authors of a revisionist documentary on Hitler”.

On Youtube, their policy is “quite strict and content can be reported by its users and then be removed by the platform.” However, ISCA still found a large number of videos and photos glorifying Hitler and the Nazis on the site. ISCA noted that, “YouTube has already been condemned in December 2008 for showing video clips glorifying Nazi troops and Hitler.” They found a copious amount of video tributes to Hitler, and the comment section of such videos filled with users expressing support for him, in addition to many channels that uploaded pro-Nazi content. ISCA also cited examples taken from another popular social networking site, Instagram, of accounts posting pro-Nazi and pro-Hitler content.

Websites, pages, and online channels that glorify Hitler are available in a wide range of languages. ISCA noted in their examples there were such sites in the German language, one which was entitled “German struggle for freedom – The truth about the war, the Germans and their Führer”. They also found many pro-Hitler social media profiles and pages in the Arabic, Turkish, and Chinese language, showing the extensive reach of this problem.

ISCA noted that Hitler’s admirers have helped to perpetuate his image and ideology, and that both are “omnipresent on the Internet.” They asserted that more must be done about the issue, and that “different actors must engage a true reflection in order to create effective tools and policy to fight against online hatred and incitement, while preserving freedom of speech.”

To read the full media report, please click here.

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Over 50% of Jewish American college students report that they experienced or witnessed anti-Semitism on their campuses during the 2013-2014 academic year. The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights has announced that campus anti-Semitism “is a serious problem which warrants further attention.” Campus anti-Semitism can include subjecting Jewish students to different treatment, harassment, violence or a hostile environment. In some cases, campus anti-Semitism is related to anti-Israel sentiment. In other cases, it is not. For most purposes, we define anti-Semitism according to the U.S. Department of State definition of anti-Semitism. .
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Todd F. Braunstein, Esq.
Todd F. Braunstein is a counsel in the Investigations & Criminal Litigation practice group at the law firm WilmerHale, LLP. As a former federal prosecutor, he has years of experience in all phases of the investigative process, on both the government and the defense side.
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