Using ‘lulz’ to recruit white nationalists and neo-Nazis

That we are witnessing a resurgence of white nationalist and neo-Nazi sentiment is indisputable. A noticeable feature is that while in the past members of these groups were distinctive because they were heavily tattooed, skinheads , and wore leather jackets and all the other accoutrements that signified that they were tough and not to be messed with, the current members forego all that and look like regular college students or young executives, as I wrote in my earlier post That nice young neo-Nazi next door. This change has not been achieved by the former group removing their tattoos, growing their hair, and buying a new wardrobe. Instead we are seeing a new kind of member.
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LulzSec ‘retires’

The anarchic hacker group LulzSec that I wrote about just a few days ago announces that it is disbanding. Whether this is a temporary or permanent move is unclear but it is inevitable that similar loose confederations of hackers will form and reform.

The Daily Show looks at the hacking issue.

Zoom bombing: Another example of why we cannot have nice things

The use of Zoom videoconferencing technology has exploded now that people have to stay at home but still need to communicate with people as part of their work or to stay connected with friends and family. Educational institutions especially have begun to use Zoom extensively to teach online. But along with that new popularity, Zoom has also become the target of hackers who are exploiting its security flaws and taken up the practice now being called ‘Zoom bombing’.
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8chan and the issue of speech on the internet

The website known as 8chan has served as a cesspool of bigoted and racist hate mongering for a long time in which posters seemed to be competing to see who could come up with the most offensive stuff, all while arguing that they were doing it ironically, ‘for the lulz’ as the kids say these days. They operated with impunity under the shield of free speech and things were going well for them (in terms of reaching their target audience) until three mass shooters in Christchurch (targeting Muslims), Poway, California (targeting Jews), and at a Texas Walmart (targeting Hispanics) posted their hateful manifestos on the website.

This proved to be too much for those companies that had been at least indirectly supporting the site and the internet security firm Cloudflare withdrew its support, thus enabling hackers to invade the site, overwhelm it, and shut it down. The creator of 8chan, an American who lives in the Philippines and seems to covet notoriety, vows to bring the site back in some form with a new name 8kun and different security firm backing it.

The NPR radio program On the Media had a fascinating 17-minute segment tying together 8chan, the people behind it, as well as Q and the QAnon conspiracy theories that spread its message via that site, and the problem of balancing free speech and deplatforming on the internet.

It raises some crucial questions: should tech companies stymie sites like 8chan? Can 8chan stay dead? And what happens to the dark content that flourished on the site — content like the QAnon conspiracy, whose purveyor vowed to only release definitive content on 8chan, lest his narrative gets drowned out by that of impersonators?

The alliance between anti-vaxxers and white nationalists

The anti-vaccination groups in the US seem to be not fazed at all by the outbreaks of measles in parts of the US and elsewhere in the world. They seem to have developed a deep-rooted belief in the rightness of their cause and no amount of scientific evidence to the contrary is going to change their minds, unless perhaps their own children fall sick. They think that those who believe in the safety of vaccines are part of a deep conspiracy to harm them and their children. In this, they are not unlike the right wing climate change deniers and Trump cultists who refuse to hear anything bad about their hero and so it should not be a surprise that there seems to be a burgeoning alliance between the two groups, as Kelly Weill reports.
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Not a bang but a whimper

I was traveling to attend a wedding over weekend and so did not get to follow the news but was gratified upon my return to read that the much-promoted Unite the Right 2 rally that was supposed to be a show of force of the white nationalists, neo-Nazis, and fascists in front of the White House where they now think they have a friend turned out to be a total bust, with the number of counter-protestors utterly dwarfing the few people who turned up for the rally under heavy police protection.
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The alt-right is appealing to young skeptics

Some time ago, I wrote about how the alt-right coalition of fascists, neo-Nazis, and bigots was luring in young people by appealing to their sense of irony and fun, or ‘lulz’ as some say these days, acting as if the rhetoric of hate was not something to be believed in but was being used just to annoy and irritate those who were derisively labeled as ‘social justice warriors’ (though why that term is seen as an insult baffles me). The claim that they were ‘fighting political correctness’ was another shield used to deflect criticisms of this stance.
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Antifa is making the neo-Nazi movement not fun anymore

Some time ago I wrote that the neo-Nazis, anti-Semites, white supremacists and the various assorted fascistic-minded types were using ‘lulz’ i.e., mocking humor and irony, to draw in new recruits, forgoing the old skinhead, tattooed, tough look for the clean cut boy next door image. And it seemed to be working. But then they encountered the antifa movement and Natasha Lennard writes that now some are discovering that there is a tangible cost to spreading messages of hate .
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