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Facebook group launches 'virtual protest' against neo-Nazis

The Local · 20 May 2010, 12:07

Published: 20 May 2010 12:07 GMT+02:00

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In the last week, the Facebook group Kein Facebook für Nazis - NPD Seite löschen, or “No Facebook for Nazis – delete the NPD page,” has gained some 260,000 members, weekly news magazine Stern reported on Thursday.

Members have been tasked with photographing themselves, arms outstretched, to simulate a human chain against the neo-Nazi party's Facebook presence. They have also been asked to incorporate the new group’s logo – a hand on which the index finger is illuminated – into the photos.

The virtual demonstration is set to reach its pinnacle on May 22-23, when organisers hope the action will influence Facebook administrators to take action against neo-Nazi content on the network.

According to Stern previous attempts to report neo-Nazi or NPD party content have had limited success because the social network takes a lenient approach and the right-wing extremist organisations fight diligently against being banned from it.

The group had initially called for an “online flashmob” on Sunday that would bombard NPD Facebook pages with comments and photos – but the attempt failed when the neo-Nazis deactivated the site.

Other efforts have included the publication of neo-Nazi organisation members’ email addresses for a similar bombardment.

The group has sent an open letter to Facebook’s Hamburg office that reads: “We believe that you have a singular chance to bring together and link people and cultures of all kinds. We believe that social networks should serve the better understanding of all people and cultures.”

The “virtual candle-lit demonstration” is the first attempt to create a broad social front against right-wing extremist activity, Stern said, explaining that instead of anonymous street protests, users are putting their names and faces on the line.

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Recent German government intelligence reports show that right-wing extremists are increasing their activity on online social networks to reach young people. In April the Lower Saxony state intelligence service warned that neo-Nazis are using sites like Facebook, and similar German sites such as SchülerVZ, StudiVZ, Wer-kennt-wen and StayFriends to find new recruits.

The danger is that many young people are unable to recognise propaganda and attempts at indoctrination from these groups at first glance, head of the state intelligence agency Hans Wargel told daily Die Welt. Instead of blatant symbols such as swastikas, many are using graffiti and other less-recognisable imagery from youth culture, he said.

The tactic is new for these groups, he added, referring to a newspaper for the neo-Nazi NPD party called Deutsche Stimme, which recently encouraged its members to appear on online forums as people with humour, hobbies, and serious cultural interests.

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Your comments about this article

13:34 May 20, 2010 by grazhdanin
Those people are dumb. Banning someone from Facebook would not solve anything. As a matter of fact there are two ends of the political spectrum, and someone just h a s to be at the right end, and that happens to be the NPD (could be worse) - if one would remove it from there, someone or something else would fill in the void. Besides there is 'freedom of speech' and 'of opinion' and that only works if all parties are allowed to speak, unregarding their views, and not just those that represent the current political mainstream. Actually it is a mystery to me how anybody could be that stupid to assume that removing some unwanted group from Facebook would solve anything?! 'I'M A VEGETARIAN AND I WOULD LIKE ALL BUTCHERS TO BE REMOVED FROM FACEBOOK!', yeah, I guess that would help the animals a lot. After all the NPD represent political views, and not m a k e them.
15:43 May 20, 2010 by Der Grenadier aus Aachen
I am sure the Nazis will virtually care in response.
19:55 May 20, 2010 by Thames
"The danger is that many young people are unable to recognise propaganda and attempts at indoctrination from these groups at first glance, head of the state intelligence agency Hans Wargel told daily Die Welt"

If this is true which I don't doubt than the many, many pro Communist sites should be removed as well. Otherwise, this would be simply favoring one form of indoctrination over another. After all a large portion of the current German State was under the control and domination of the Communists much longer than the National Socialists. Addtionally, if the German youth are so easily indoctrinated what does this say about the education system and the parents.
06:26 May 21, 2010 by vonSchwerin
I'm sure the NPD leaders are shaking in their boots over this.

What a joke! In fact, all of these Facebook protest "groups" are pathetic. They get 50,000 people to join groups like "No more toleration of the Burmese junta's abuses!" or "100,000 strong against underfunding Kentucky public schools!" As if the Burmese generals or Kentucky school funding authorities care what goes on Facebook. What a useless, meaningless, ineffectual, and pathetic protest. How about if those 50,000 people all wrote letters to the same Congressman, MP, or MdB. That would get attention.

But no. Generation Internet thinks that if it's not on the internet, it's not happening and that the rest of the world cares what's on their Facebook pages.
17:51 May 21, 2010 by martinjohn
In a free country, people will have widely divergent opinions. Everybody knows that. The most evil mistake a society can make is to decide that certain opinions are just totally banned. That is so wrong.

Whatever you say, others can rebut and they can react. Let them. Do not arbitrarily ban certain things. You happen to disagree, so bring it on! For me, I think anyone can say anything. I do not read everything in front of me. If I do not like something, I say so.

Do not allow polarised prejudiced censorship to prevail. I hate what some people say. But I would that they can say it.

It is better that self-appointed tendentious sanitary inspectors of opinion be banned, than that free speech be restricted in any way whatsoever.
17:54 May 21, 2010 by erinjohn

you are right. i do see that communism is treated differently though. people seem to think its ok and i see people walking around with hammer and sickle shirts and pics of Che guevara all the time try that with hitler or a swastika
17:38 May 24, 2010 by dr.makni49
Tricky debate. Recently, a film, .'Swastika' depicting social profiles of Hitler was permitted for the fist time to be screened in Germany. You call them neo-Nazis or demonise them further, the fact is that Germany has to come to terms with natural tendencies that have historic roots and demonstrated by Germans themselves. More you supress them, more you make them popular. Indoctrination and their appeal among the youth is predictable with fair ease. Tackle it by bringing agenda that is far more appealing therwise expect against the hope......I am not German!!!
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