Your Guide To Stormfront, The White Supremacist Porta-Potty Of The Internet
The true hub of net-hate, it turns out, is the online community Stormfront. According to a report released Thursday by the Southern Poverty Law Center, users of online hate forums have become "disproportionately responsible" for racist murders — and nearly 100 people have been murdered by users of the white-supremacist site Stormfront in the last five years. The author of the report, Heidi Beirich, has said the website "has been a magnet for the deadly and deranged."
Users of the community include Wade Michael Page, the Army vet responsible for killing six people after opening fire at Sikh temple in Wisconsin in 2012. Another was Anders Behring Breivik, the Norwegian terrorist who massacred 77 people in Oslo and at a youth summer camp in 2011.
Stormfront founder Don Black responded to the SPLC report on his personal page: "We're obviously a big website, and any site is likely to have a few unstable people pass through. Facebook, Twitter, and particularly Craigslist have had their share."
Black, unfortunately, is also a nut. The former Ku Klux Klan leader has served time in prison for plotting to overthrow a Caribbean island government, and is described by the SPLC as "the first hate propagandist to fully appreciate the potential of the Internet." After learning to program computers in prison, he set up Stormfront in 1995.
Since then, Stormfront has grown into one of the most popular online communities for white supremacists. While you are not allowed to use profanity or racial epithets on the boards (because they are very proper and considerate!), members have the opportunity to post comments to discussion threads such as "Aryan Storm Rising," "To Hate or Not to Hate," and "What do you want done with the Jews?"
The website has seen extraordinary growth, despite the seemingly... niche quality of the content. In January 2002, Stormfront had 5,000 members; In early 2008, it had 133,000; today, it has over 286,000 users, although fewer than 1,800 log in each day.
Which begs the question: How can a website responsible for the communication of so many killers — one that proclaims that "every month is white history month" — be allowed to continue to operate? Well, Mark Potok, editor of the SPLC report, noted in an interview that these sites don't contain concrete plots to commit crimes, and thus are protected by First Amendment rights.
At least our government is protecting the rights of those who need it most, eh?