Achtung! Undercover-Nazis!

Nazi-Fake

Dass man Internetnazis nicht unterschätzen sollte und dass es die falsche Strategie ist, sie einfach zu ignorieren, beweist ein Fall aus USA.

Dem weltweit grösste Nazi und White Power Forum „Stormfront“ ist es schon vor einiger Zeit gelungen, eine unglaublich hinterfotzige undercover-Seite über Martin Luther King zur Nummer 1 der Google charts zu machen. Das Perfide: Die Seite, die von brutalstem Rassismus nur so strotzt, erweckt zunächst den Eindruck, eine pro-MLK-Seite zu sein. Zudem ist die Seite so gestaltet, dass sie insbesondere von Schülern zur Anfertigung von papers über den grossen Schwarzen Bürgerrechtler und Nobelpreisträger verwendet wird. Wie viele arglose amerikanische Schüler schon den Nazis in die Falle gegangen sind, ist unbekannt (siehe dazu das gefakte Ratespiel „Attention Students: Try Our MLK Pop Quiz„). Von Deutschen Nazis etwa im Umfeld des Thiazi-Forums ist bislang nichts über solche Aktionen bekannt. Unserer Einschätzung nach dürfe es aber nur eine Frage der Zeit sein, bis die braunen Arschgeigen auch im deutschsprachigen Raum zu Mitteln greifen werden und versuchen, mit auf den ersten Blick harmlos aussehenden Seiten unterschwellige Propaganda und Manipulation zu betreiben. Deshalb: Augen auf! Die gefährlichsten Nazis sind oft die unauffälligsten!

Originalartikel (in English you Krauts):

Google and the Web Democracy

MartinLutherKing.org is a hate site run by white pride organization Stormfront.org. It also happened to be linked right from the homepage of RockTheVote.com with a large center image. The Rock the Vote website aims to promote “political power for young people,” and this was a classic case of of web voting – a link from site A to site B – gone wrong. So how could this “link vote” happen? Hans Riemer at the Rock the Vote blog explains (my emphasis):

„To identify the external link, our webmaster searched Google and chose one of the top results, a website that, at a quick glance, appears to be a tribute to Dr. King with speeches, photos and a special emphasis on the holiday (martinlutherking.org – but don’t go there). But appearances (and, apparently, popular results on Google) are deceptive. The website is a racist site that disrespects Dr. King and insults all of us who cherish his advocacy for justice. On behalf of RtV, I would like to extend our deepest apologies for this mistake. The link was immediately corrected.“

Perhaps the link was corrected “immediately,” but not fast enough for Google to not see it (above screenshot with the martinlutherking.org link is from Google’s cache)… and potentially, assign some additional “weight” to the hate site. Seth Finkelstein comments, “Remember, hate groups can do search engine optimization and marketing too!” And then, a positive feedback pattern of the web shows its face: sites that appear high in Google will be able to potentially strengthen their position over time because more people link to them (because they found the site in Google, not because they carefully analyzed its merits), triggering a vicious circle.

Now, I don’t know how MartinLutherKing.org received such a high position in Google. Perhaps they did some search engine optimization, and perhaps they even did some sneaky SEO. But for the sake of argument of the bigger issue behind this specific case, let’s say they didn’t – that they relied only on “marketing” their site well socially, without resorting to technical abuses, linking to it from white pride sites and informing “mainstream webmasters” of their URL. And indeed, these techniques don’t rely on SEO, but on the basic pattern of democracies: votes count. Convince people to vote for you, through whatever reasonable or unreasonable (or even deceptive) campaign claims you have, and you get more votes, which gives you more power. Why would it be any different with Google, who say they “believe strongly in allowing the democracy of the web to determine the inclusion and ranking of sites” in their search results?

We may see a flaw in the system, but it’s not a flaw that’s restricted to the online word – or in any way specific to Google’s interpretation of the “democracy algorithm.” We all vote with our links, be it in our a blog roll linking to a befriended blog, in an article’s link to a Wikipedia entry, or on our homepage linking to some mainstream news source. (This being a public vote, we help market the site we point to even if there’d be no such thing as “linkjuice.”)

And lobby groups, on- and offline, pro or con any topic – Stormfront too is a kind of lobby group – market their message trying to get free air-time. The more trusted the channel they get their message into, the more worthwhile for them. In Germany, for example (and I assume it’s the same in other countries), lobby agencies create free content for TV stations. These reports pass of as neutral news if you only give them that “quick glance” the Rock the Vote blog mentioned. If your job is to produce content everyday, confronted with tight deadlines, isn’t it great that someone sends you some free content for you to use? This way, a “commercial” can make it into seemingly neutral mainstream news programs, exposing it to a larger audience (some of whom will eat the report up as “fact”).

Here’s the flaw, or necessity, in the system: inevitably, free voting sometimes leads to “bad” results (“free voting” is not to be confused with a successful dark hat search engine optimization trick, which rather resembles the “freedom” to break the ballot machine). “Bad” is hard to define, because one’s favored person, group or opinion may be considered “bad” by someone else. The issue is less subtle with MartinLutherKing.org, because here we might be able to argue that the majority of “voters” indeed considers this a bad result; it is a minority opinion. But that leads me to a second observation: having a “bad” (or minority) result in the top 10 is not necessarily bad for the system.

http://blogoscoped.com/archive/2007-01-22-n85.html

Dass man zu solchen Seiten wie „martinlutherking.org“ ’nicht hingehen sollte‘, finden wir nicht. Im Gegenteil! Wenn mehr Leute da hin gegangen wären und sich das genau angeschaut hätten, wäre die Peinlichkeit des hohen Rankings der Seite sogar bei directories wie „Rock the Vote“ gar nicht erst passiert. Nochmal also: Augen auf beim Surfen! Manchmal steht nicht „Nazi“ drauf, aber es ist Nazi drin!

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