Melbourne, Nov 20 : Social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, which have millions of users, are being used by extremist groups to recruit members, experts have warned.
Many experts have claimed that extremist groups use such sites to influence people via Web 2.0 tools like blogs, social networks, video sites and instant messaging.
"(These websites) are the 'killer apps' of the internet today, and they're used by millions, but the virus of hate certainly has infected those technologies," News.com.au quoted Christopher Wolf, chair of the International Network Against CyberHate (INACH), as telling the Global Summit on Internet Hate Speech.
He added: "The internet toolbox that is available to hatemongers has had a number of new items added to it over the last several years."
According to Deborah Lauter, national director of civil rights for the Anti-Defamation League, extremist groups "use these social-networking sites and they create a community, a community of hate and it has very real consequences."
She even cited the case of Oklahoma woman who was allegedly shot dead this month, by a member of the white supremacist Ku Klan Klan, after being recruited through MySpace.
Police in Louisiana claimed that the lady was apparently killed when she decided to flee a Ku Klux Klan initiation rite. Stefan Glaser, co-founder of anti-hate group INACH, said that with Web 2.0 tools "the effect of hate is getting broadened."
He added: "Neo-Nazis are very well aware of social network platforms for recruiting the next generation, for infiltrating youth groups."
Wolf, a lawyer and expert in internet law said: "On YouTube, for example, there are thousands of hate videos that are uploaded with messages of racism, anti-Semitism, homophobia and intolerance towards minorities.
"There are sites on Facebook and MySpace that promote civil rights but there are many, many more that demonize Jews and Muslims and Gays and other minorities. All of that is prohibited by the operators of Facebook and MySpace in the terms of service.
"If we report these sites to the operators of these services they often are removed. But for every site that we can report and get taken down there is at least one other site to replace it and often many others."
Brian Marcus, an analyst for the US Department of Homeland Security, said: "extremists and terrorists are just like the other users of electronic media. They adapt to the new ways and the new technologies with incredible speed. These emerging medium give scale, scope and speed and a new dimension to terrorism and extremism unlike anything seen in the past."