Neo-Nazis are using Instagram to radicalise teenagers and recruit them

Instagram is now not only the social media browsing site to see what food or workouts your friends are doing – neo-Nazis are taking to the popular platform to recruit teenagers, a report claims.

Campaign group Hope Not Hate, said the site has become a hub for recruiting young people to far-right groups.

The anit-racism organisation said Instagram's recommendations-driven platform and focus on visual media make it ideal for spreading propaganda.

Nick Lowels, the chief executive, said: "Though we continue to warn about niche platforms like Telegram, a fertile recruitment ground for young neo-Nazis has been Instagram – it's inadequate moderation and worrying algorithm recommendations are child protection issues that demand urgent action from the platform."

The group has identified two far-right groups active in Britain, The British Hand and the National Partisan Movement, who have used the site to recruit members.

It's said the groups are also using other messaging apps, like Telegram, to communicate with each other.

The annual "State of Hate" report published on Monday found the coronavirus pandemic has sped up the move of the far-right groups in the UK from the streets to online.

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"The lockdown has had a profound effect on every part of our society and it's no less the case on the far-right. Traditional organisations were already on the decline but lockdown exacerbated their inactivity," said Mr Lowles.

"The British far-right is now digitally led and reflective of online culture – traditional structures have given way to social media platforms, influencers and 'citizen journalists' creating peer-to-peer radicalisation and a global community willing to crowd source 'micro-donations' of time and effort.

"The new organisations and collectives that are emerging understand how to operate in this decentralised, self-directed environment.

"We have seen a slew of far-right terror convictions over the last year, and half of these have been teenagers."

A Facebook company spokesperson said: "We do not want hate on our platform and we removed a number of accounts belonging to The British Hand and National Partisan Movement before this report was published.

"We've banned over 250 white supremacist organisations from Facebook and Instagram, and will continue removing content that praises, supports or represents these groups. That includes content containing swastikas and other hate symbols.

"Last year, we removed nearly 1 million pieces of content tied to hate organisations from Instagram and we're always investing in technology to find and remove it faster."

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