How the dark net’s radicalization works

It’s not exactly a secret that 4chan and its derivatives have been cesspools for Literally Nazi recruitment, bleeding into other interests that would have been styled “nerdy” 15 years ago, such as gaming and comic books. Caught in between these various sub-interests are the often maligned “furries”–participants of fiction and art focusing on anthropomorphic animal characters. Furry communities have been undergoing a largely unnoticed explicit project to redirect those in their community away from white supremacist radicalization, and ostracize those too far in to salvage. One such member, Deo, has written about some of the indoctrination techniques that radicalize these nerdy young white men in the hopes that her peers can recognise this process.

Content notice: Nazi tropes and, if you click on the link, Nazi imagery, genocidal aspirations, and chat logs of indoctrinal programming. (paragraph breaks added for readability)

Isolated, lonely, insecure, unfulfilled, bitter young men who feel that society at large has abandoned them and denies them the opportunities they feel entitled to are prime targets. White supremacist recruiters approach these angry young men and tell them that they are special and have a greater destiny. They are told that every white man carries this legacy mantle of superiority because every white man bears the lineage of advancements and accomplishments of all white men throughout history. That every white man is imbued by his fore fathers with an important destiny to defend the white race. Thus the lonely NEET need not achieve anything himself to still hold this position of power and supremacy, his accomplishments that the recruiter can flatter him for is simply that he was born with white skin.

These tactics transform nerdy bullied young men into proud white warriors, making them useful tools for the promotion and growth of the white supremacist ideology and agenda. Neo-Nazi groups know utilizing the insecurity and loneliness in their targets is an effective recruiting and radicalizing tactic especially when tailored to the large audience of socially awkward internet nerds.

Another key strategy in white supremacist recruitment are online communities that warmly welcoming in new members, once lured into such a group the recruit is given a surge of support, validation, and esteem boosting. The new members are told they belong, that they may not fit in real life social cliques but that they fit into this group, and that the other group members care about them. Hours will be invested in grooming the new recruit, befriending and talking with them. Active chats are appealing to those who are bored and isolated and only want some human contact but have trouble getting it elsewhere due to social awkwardness.

The white supremacist group offers a sense of community and belonging and slowly cultivates in the recruit into a sense of loyalty towards the group. For those desperate for friendship or to feel included this is an incredibly potent lure. These groups can have darker tactics as well, with leaders telling their members that they cannot leave or return to people outside of the group. Many reasons are given but most commonly this inability to leave is posed as there being some boogeyman outsider, like “SJWs”, will eventually toss them out, bully them, ostracize them, or attack them. Leaving the group is framed to members as ruining their only chance at fun, true friendship, or inclusion. Members are told they must remain in the group because within the group is the only place it is safe to express themselves freely, that their opinions are too radical to be accepted elsewhere, or that their ‘truth’ will be brutally suppressed by outsiders, and within the group are the only people who will ever accept them. The outside world is cast as some nebulously ominous power that is held back from harming the member only by the protection of the group. All of this forges fear and friendship together into chains that trap people into toxic white supremacist spaces.

Read more here.



  1. says

    I used to know someone this actually worked on. It was pretty spooky. About 2 years ago, she suddenly unloaded at me for hanging out with SJWs and being a follower of the “discredited PZ Myers.” We didn’t talk for a long time after that. Then, this summer, I got an email that she was in a relationship with a guy who had filled her ears with all this stuff… It was pretty shocking, to me, since I pretty much don’t listen to anyone and couldn’t imagine absorbing and accepting a load of bald-faced assertions like that. But I can understand how someone who isn’t very thoughtful could fall for it.

  2. says

    once lured into such a group the recruit is given a surge of support, validation, and esteem boosting. The new members are told they belong, that they may not fit in real life social cliques but that they fit into this group, and that the other group members care about them.

    So, “love bombing”. Favored tactic of cults everywhere.

  3. says

    Yeah I think “dark net” means something particular tech-wise, not just “places where creeps hang out,” though there is surely overlap. I know so little about how the dark net works, I don’t know if it’s the same sites being accessed through different browsers, or if there is a parallel web of dark sites. And if it’s the latter, don’t know if 4chan is on it, though surely many channers are.

    The rationalwiki page on 4chan has a quote at the top that’s A – pretty typical of the ableism on both sides of the atheism political divide, and B – ironic to use describing 4chan, as it may be more true of us than them. Off topic, nm.

    There’s an element of the love bomb that appeals to maladjusted kids and that mainstream sources would be hard pressed to emulate: quashing all criticism. Maladjusted white boys (like I used to be) are supremely bad at taking criticism, perceiving it as bullying or outrageous. But having your worst behavior criticized helps you grow as a person and most mainstream sources of socialization include it, in some informal way.

    In the name of community cohesion, criticism and disagreement are pathologically ignored, hushed up, swept under rugs. It really is good for community cohesion – and building the worst communities. One reason a side that accepts “call outs” will always be better than a side that favors hero worship. Eh, I made it about us again. But then, our movements produced a lot of these people too.