Hate and peace in a connected world
First Monday

Hate and peace in a connected world: Comparing MoveOn and Stormfront

Abstract
Hate and peace in a connected world: Comparing MoveOn and Stormfront by Noriko Hara and Zilia Estrada

What part does the Internet play in social mobilization? The Internet has been hailed as a great potential force to enrich a civil society. Many authors have claimed that the Internet would mobilize grassroots activities. By scrutinizing two particular grassroots activities and their use of the Internet, this article sheds light on conceptualizing the use of the information and communication technologies (ICTs) in mobilizing grassroots activities. The framework may help inform social scientists as well as practitioners who are involved in grassroots activities, and provide a baseline for comparison with future research, which examines mobilization of such activities with the use of the Internet over time.

Contents

Introduction
Theoretical framework
Case studies of activism online
Participation
The Web sites we studied
Mobilizing resources
Discussion
Conclusions

 


 

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Introduction

This article challenges two lines of thought and research: (1) That the Internet greatly enhances grassroots’ activities, and, (2) that online activities can be analyzed separately from their real world contexts. The adherents of the first claim range from zealous believers in the Internet and its democratizing potential (e.g., Quick, 1997) to more cautious observers and analysts of current events (see e.g., Boyd, 2003). As for the second arena, human behavior and activity is influenced by many variables other than the ones that appear online. While such research on Internet activity has focused primarily on the technological affordances of the medium, much may be missed if grassroots activities online are studied as though they were enacted in a closed world. Our use of "connected world" in the title of this article refers not only to the World Wide Web, but also to the world of human activity and motivations in which all online activities exist, including the social networks, politics, leisure activities, and the mass media (i.e., newspapers, television, and radio).

This study was partially motivated by an incident that occurred in the Midwestern hometown of one of the authors in 1999. A white supremacist named Benjamin Smith randomly shot 11 people, killing two of them. One of the two victims was a Korean student at Indiana University in Bloomington (see also Belluck, 1999; Dedman, 1999; Hawkins, 2000). Members of the Bloomington community were shocked. In the days and weeks following the incident many debates occurred about how to teach tolerance and respect for diversity. This same author later found the Web site of the World Church of the Creator (www.creator.org), an organization to which Benjamin Smith belonged. It was devastating to find this organization still promoting its peculiar view through the Web after one of its members had been convicted of murder. These events, among others, led us to ask how much the Internet influences and fosters such activities.

Most of the research on hate Web sites has tended to focus on the media, examining the direct effect of different types of media on these Web sites (whether it is television, games, multimedia, or Web sites), or legal issues about how to capture "the bad guys" (Lee and Leets, 2002; Levin, 2002; Rajagopal and Bojin, 2002). Levin (2002) surveyed the history of white supremacist groups’ use of electronic media. Lee and Leets (2002) studied the impact of messages presented on hate Web sites through a series of experiments. Other discussions (e.g., Levin, 2002; Rajagopal and Bojin, 2002) have considered how to regulate such problematic Web sites.

Our focus is slightly different. We wanted to know how the Internet influences and provides a scaffold of support for hate groups and hate movements. As we looked for indicators to reveal the sphere of influence of these groups’ influence online and the influence of the Internet itself, we realized that certain concrete evidence was hard to come by. Much of the research on hate crimes touches on the difficulty of conducting empirical studies (Green et al., 2001). We realize that we might be able to tease out strategies of Internet use by comparing two ideologically disparate groups functioning at a grassroots level. Instead of focusing strictly on hate movements and the Internet, we examined the use of the Internet to support grassroots activities in general.

Much of the rhetoric about the Internet touts the Internet’s potential to enrich civil society. These claims extend to the potential of the Internet to support grassroots activities (e.g., Martinez-Torres, 2001; Tesh, 2002; Troester, 2001). To explore these claims, we compared the Web sites of two very different grassroots groups and studied how these Web sites reflect the groups’ uses of the Internet to support their activities. Stormfront and MoveOn, Web sites and groups, have many similarities and differences.

As might be expected, these two organizations differ in critical ways, and yet those differences provide a backdrop by which to discern their similarities. By comparing and contrasting the Web sites of these two organizations, we can discern those uses of the Internet that transcend organization and organizational goals, more clearly identify those characteristics that engage participation, and isolate and identify the unique contribution of the Web. In this article, we review the uses of the Internet that support social activism, and introduce two specific cases in which the Internet has been used (at least somewhat) successfully to support grassroots activism.

We developed a framework to study the ways in which the Internet is implicated in grassroots movements and activism. The framework emerged from content analysis of two Web sites and from a body of literature on social activism and the Internet. To try out the framework, we compared the ways in which one player in the recent peace movement, MoveOn, and one player in the white supremacist movement, Stormfront [1], have used the Internet to mobilize their activities. We wanted to know to what extent and in what ways, the Internet influences grassroots activities. Both groups and Web sites have received significant media coverage. The Web site for the peace movement, MoveOn, has been discussed in various newspaper articles (e.g., Boyd, 2003; Rosenbaum, 2003). Eli Pariser, one of the organizers of MoveOn, was featured in an article in the New York Times Magazine about his role in mobilizing the anti-Iraq war movement (Packer, 2003). The white supremacist Web site, Stormfront, has been credited with being the first extremist Web site on the Web (Anti-Defamation League, 2001; Networker@USC, 1999). Stormfront too has also been featured in many newspaper articles (see Black, 2003a). Although there are many different components to the activities of these movements, we have focused on the idea of participation as the lens for examination. Ultimately, whether through campaign donations, interaction with other participants, sharing the information on the Web sites with others, or referring someone to the Web site, the key to the success of the movement and the Web site is the extent to which and the manner in which people participate. We have analyzed the features of the Web sites to discern the ways in which form and content interact to engage the viewer and the possible participant. While we started by asking to what extent the Internet influences grassroots activities, we refined our research question to focus on the ways MoveOn and Stormfront use the Internet to increase, retain, and vitalize member participation.

 

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Theoretical framework

In order to understand the extent of the Internet’s influence on grassroots organizations and activism, and the extent of the influence wielded by these groups through the Internet, we drew on resource mobilization theory (McCarthy and Zald, 1977). We perceive that the Internet capitalizes on the following resources: Knowledge, interpersonal interactions, identity support, and credibility/legitimacy.

Knowledge can be easily disseminated worldwide via Web sites and e-mail mailing lists. Solidarity can be generated and enhanced through interpersonal interactions, as like-minded people find each other via online networks. At the individual level, the Internet can be a medium through which identity support is provided through such things as validation of personal views (through discussion forums and chat rooms), as well as through the provision of identity and group symbols (ie, group iconography for personal display). Publicity, outreach, and networking can take place through referrals, linking between Web sites, and promotion through the Web site or other media. For marginalized groups, the Internet can provide opportunities to legitimize their existence, and increase credibility, visibility, and marketability. This "legitimation" resource can be seen in the ways that hate groups have engaged the Internet to establish an aura of legitimacy. The strategies for establishing legitimacy online are various [2] and cheaper than through other mass media. Attempts at establishing credibility and legitimacy can be seen as successful to the extent that others (i.e., watchdog groups and law enforcement agencies) have perceived such Web sites as a threat and have initiated legal action to shut them down (Anti-Defamation League, 2001).

We have drawn on Gary Fine’s Provisioning Theory, an adaptation of Resource Mobilization theory, in his application of it to leisure activity organizations. Fine’s theory sheds light on the ways leisure groups recruit participants and stimulate participation. The ways in which the Web sites, and the activities they offer, have been set up are similar to leisure group participation in many ways: Lower cost of entry, high return on investment ratios, independence from location of activities, and identity support. Whereas "... resource mobilization theory attempts to demystify cultural and ideological production by specifying how organizational, economic, and ecological realities direct the strategies and effectiveness of voluntary organizations" (Fine, 1989), Fine’s Provisioning Theory explains "... how leisure organizations use resources to attract and retain participants."

While we were initially concerned about cannibalizing one theory, and the adaptation of it, to a whole other set of circumstances, we recognized new characteristics and strategies of the Web sites when viewed through the framework of Fine’s model. While both Stormfront and MoveOn are dedicated to specific long-range socio-political goals, we discovered that the Stormfront Web site, in contrast to the MoveOn site, employs strategies that are closer to those found in leisure organizations. This realization made us consider the ways in which those who use the Internet may avail themselves of particular approaches. We also took into consideration the ways in which organizations similar to Stormfront have employed the strategies of leisure organizations in establishing a group identity for its members. The distinction between approaches and strategies seems to be embedded in whether the focus of the group is on the end-goal of some change for the perceived communal, as well as individual good, or whether the primary motivation is a form of personal engagement, satisfaction, and/or justification. Without making these issues our primary focus, they informed our thinking as we explored the strategies of these organizations and their use of the Internet.

Although the Resource Mobilization Theory (McCarthy and Zald, 1977) and its modification, the Provisioning Theory (Fine, 1989), are useful frameworks to shed light on the ways the Internet is used by the two organizations and to examine how it affects participation, the Resource Mobilization Theory has some limitations. Tarrow (1998) notes that the Resource Mobilization Theory has been criticized for its strong reliance on an economics framework, the lack of connection to grassroots movements, and an unclear definition of social movements. When we attempted to apply Resource Mobilization Theory, we found two major problems. We recognized that not all resources are equal. We also recognized the need to consider the context in which resources are used. Resources are not used in a vacuum. Research Mobilization Theory often fails to address these issues.

To compensate for the problems mentioned above, we incorporated concepts from Gladwell’s (2000) analysis of diffusion and growth of ideas, products, and real-world phenomena. Gladwell argues that there are influencing factors that support the spread and "catching on" of an idea or phenomena. The three major factors are: Law of the few, stickiness factor, and power of context. These factors coincide with what we had observed in the organizations’ use of their Web sites.

Law of the few explains the powerful role of agents and the power of the activities of a small number of players. Tarrow (1998) also discusses how a network of small groups can support mass collective actions. Gladwell identified three key roles: The Connector, the Maven, and the Salesman. Connectors are people who know many people. They do not establish close relationships with everyone, but rather have shallow relationships to a hundreds of people. Once you give an idea to a connector, she can spread the idea to hundreds and thousands of people that she knows. Mavens are evaluators and advisors. They collect information to evaluate products and ideas and make suggestions to people. They do this unselfishly because they want to help people. Gladwell notes that while connectors can tell 100 people about a certain product, not all 100 people will listen to them. It is likely that only ten people will take their advice. On the other hand, Mavens may only talk to ten people about a certain product, but all the ten people will listen to their advice. The third key role articulated by Gladwell is the Salesman. Once the salesman wants to sell something, you cannot resist.

We argue that the Web functions in the roles of Connector and Maven. The Web sites that grassroots’ organizations create become hubs of a network for those who are interested in grassroots’ activities. These Web sites also provide mailing list services to their members, so that they can stay in touch. At the same time, the Web sites play the role of Mavens because they provide information pertinent to the members of grassroots organizations.

The second factor that Gladwell delineates is called "stickiness factor." It is important to have a means to spread information through networks of people, but the content itself is also important. The stickiness factor explains why certain ideas and products can become "social epidemics" (Gladwell, 2000). To be sticky, the ideas or products have to be easy to remember and something that people would act on. The term "stickiness" is widely used in Web environments. As a medium, the Web has previously been described as non-sticky (Farkas and Farkas, 2002). Shaw (2001) examined interactivity and stickiness of .com and not.com (e.g., .gov, .org., .net) Web sites. She found that .com Web sites have fewer outside links in order to retain visitors, thus increasing the stickiness of their Web sites; .net Web sites provide more outside links from their sites. So, self-linking is one of the strategies to keep the users within a site, but there are other strategies to make sites sticky.

The third factor that Gladwell highlights is called "The Power of Context." Humans tend to notice what other humans do without taking into consideration the setting in which the actions are taking place. And yet, Gladwell argues, the environment or context can be more powerful than the individual actor. It is possible that a healthy normal individual can turn into a cruel person within a given environment. A theory called "Broken Window" explains that if people find broken windows in a certain neighborhood, people tend to break more windows — no matter what. Gladwell further mentions that individual personality has less power compared to the effect of the environment.

 

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Case studies of activism online

The Internet has been touted as a promoter of democracy, but as yet there are few published case studies. A recent example is the 2003 election in South Korea in which Roh Moo Hyun, a non-mainstream politician, won the presidential campaign. His victory has been largely attributed to his online presence, created by the online news paper called OhmyNews (French, 2003).

The Internet is increasingly being used as a mobilizing tool for grassroots groups, as evidenced by its increasing use for organizing anti-war demonstrations (Ruiming, 2003), promoting hate (Anonymous, 1999), union organizing [3], and a variety of other civil society activities. Many writers (e.g., Horrigan, 2001, Myers, 2001) are hopeful that the Internet can help build and strengthen civil society. As a precursor to our discussion of MoveOn and Stormfront, two well-publicized cases of the use of the Internet in grassroots movements will be discussed: The role of the Internet in promoting democratization in Burma and the ways in which the Internet was used by the Zapatista movement in Mexico in 1994-1998. In both cases, Internet use fostered increased participation in support of grassroots activities.

Burma, freedom, and the Internet

The Internet has used to support grassroots resistance in the struggle to democratize Burma (i.e., Myanmar). The Burmese government is under a dictatorship; citizens promoting democracy were, and are, being killed or imprisoned. Some freedom fighters have escaped the country and are continuing to fight for democracy in Burma while living abroad, primarily in Thailand and India. Many are also in the United States and Europe. According to Troester (2001) and Danitz and Strobel (1999), the Internet has supported the Burmese grassroots activities in three ways: By connecting the activists via e-mail, listservs, and the Web; by promoting awareness of the situation in Burma and successfully soliciting support from international audiences; and, by advocating boycotts of foreign companies that conduct business in Burma [4].

The political and social network created via the Internet has helped the activists stay in touch, as well as get publicity and support. Danitz and Strobel (1999) conducted a survey among the Burma activists. One of them commented that, "[w]ithout the Internet, the mailing lists, and the information at my fingertips, I would find it difficult to participate in the way that I do now ..." [5]. An activist leader, Zarni, also commented on the advantage of using the Internet to share information, as well as the advantageous psychological factor that it provided by giving the activists a sense of collectiveness (Eng, 1998). International boycotts and sanctions reveal the success of the Burmese activists’ efforts to gain international support. The point about increasing awareness of the situation in Burma and eliciting support was underscored by then president Bill Clinton’s endorsement of a prohibition against any investment in Burma by the United States. The Burmese activists lobbied for international financial sanctions via the Web; as a consequence, in 1997 Pepsi withdrew its business from Burma. This was a substantial victory.

Although Danitz and Strobel (1999) argue that this case of Burmese activists represents a successful use of the Internet to promote a civil society movement, they also caution their readers not to be overly enthusiastic about it. In addition to its advantages, the use of the Internet to support the activists’ grassroots activities also has serious disadvantages. For instance, due to the availability of information through the Internet, Burmese military personnel can now more easily obtain information about the activists, thus placing the activists at greater risk. In addition, Danitz and Strobel emphasize that without face-to-face exchanges, the online activity is not as effective. They caution that reliance on the Internet could reduce face-to-face contacts, thus leading to a weakening of the activists’ effectiveness. Finally, Danitz and Strobel discerned that the media have focused more attention on how the activists operate rather than on what they are actually doing; in a sense diffusing some of the urgency of the message by focusing on the medium rather than the content.

The Zapatista Movement in Mexico

Though different in a number of ways from the peace and hate movements we will consider later, the Zapatista movement in Mexico in the years 1994-1998 is instructive in the ways in which it embodied the new and old uses of social networks and information technologies, particularly the Internet. That period of activity is also instructive in the ways that it has been analyzed and described in scholarly papers. Depending on the source — and who one identifies with, and as, the movement — the Zapatistas were canny players in the information age, enlisting powerful information tools to their cause, or they were one of multiple players who participated in a nuanced exchange between different epochs of resistance, different types of warfare, and different actors, in various social groups, with somewhat different agendas. It should be noted that there was a partial disjuncture between some demands of the indigenas, which were quite specific and immediate (e.g., the demand for electricity), and those of many intellectuals and non-government organization (NGO) activists, which were general and sweeping (e.g., the demand for electoral reform). In a sense, the indigenas and the intellectuals spoke in different languages. The latter generally made for better press [6].

How technology can be a tool for empowering individuals in their struggles for civil rights and a civil society is not a straightforward affair. In contrast to the view of the Zapatistas as one segment of a cast of players, note the ways in which they are depicted as central players in an article from the Peace Review:

"The Zapatistas were able to turn information — essentially the scaring of investors and the mobilizing of international support — into a key tool to force a ceasefire and bring the government to the negotiating table." [7]

Both of these characterizations, that of multiple players working together synergistically as well as the image of the solo player taking charge of the field and the technology, come into play in our considerations of MoveOn and Stormfront.

Arquilla and Ronfeldt (2001) credit the NGOs that were attracted to the Zapatista movement with the deployment of information resources in the service of the movement. If the Zapatistas had the cause, the NGOs had some of the key tools: access to the Internet (prominently email), faxes, phones, and media (i.e., the press, television, and radio), the language of those playing at transnational levels that could reach out beyond the national boundaries and engage interested parties in other places, as well as an openness to the use of networked resources by the social base of the EZLN (Zapatista National Liberation Army). Arquilla and Ronfeldt characterize the aspects that led them to identify the Zapatista’s use of networking as information warfare as "informal, often [taking] ad hoc shapes. Participation shifted constantly, depending partly on the issues ... ." [8]

The ability to shift between pertinent issues became a factor in being able to engage different participants. Our observation is that this mobility (i.e., being able to shift focus from one issue to another) increased the visibility of the movement. This mobility allowed more people with different agendas to find ways to participate. The kind of shifting participation described above is one of the features that is discernible in the growth of MoveOn through its various stages of networking to date.

The two cases of the Burmese activists and the Zapatista movement described above mainly highlight transnational networks (Diani, 2000), although both showcased how participatory resources can be maximized by using Computer-Mediated Communication (CMC). In the following sections, we will discuss MoveOn and Stormfront. Our primary focus with these two cases is on how participation is mobilized.

 

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Participation

Participation is a key element of grassroots organizations. Beyond its importance to organizations, participation is also an important indicator of the effectiveness of Internet use. If nobody participates, Web sites lie inactive. While there are some organizations that attempt to "create" online communities of practice and set up online forums, so that people can start communicating with each other and swapping the knowledge they possess, many such intentionally-created online communities of practice that do not involve face-to-face communication and community building efforts are likely to be less active (Plaskoff, 2003).

Although peace and hate movements have not generally been defined as being driven by leisure groups, the voluntary nature of the groups, as well as a number of points of engagement are similar. Fine (1989) discusses the importance of how voluntary organizations mobilize resources to attract and keep participants. Drawing on Diani (2000), we include CMC as a tool that can mobilize a variety of participatory resources. Among other things, CMC provides a space for people to engage in conversations, as well as to access information.

The two Web sites that we studied have been somewhat successful in terms of recruiting people to participate. These sites emerged from a perceived need on the part of the developers/organizers [9]; they emerged within the context of a social scene that, in each case, was at a particular point of readiness. That context (a confluence of social factors) is what Gladwell (2000) distinguishes as the "power of context" which can be a catalyst for change. The Web sites and forums within them provided, and continue to provide, a variety of opportunities for participation at the right time. As Boyd (2003) noted, MoveOn is breaking activities into smaller and actionable pieces, so that people can take immediate action. This strategy of offering "actionable chunks" lowers the "cost" of participation. It is one of the strategies that the organizers of MoveOn have used to engage participation.

An online resource that has been credited by Boyd with contributing to increased participation by MoveOn supporters is the "Meetup" meeting tool (http://www.meetup.com). Meetup allows people to organize meetings locally in a rather democratic way. People who are interested in particular topics can vote on the time and place to meet in their local area. The supporters of Democratic Presidential hopeful Howard Dean have used this tool to organize local meetings in the run-up to Democratic party nominations. This meeting-scheduling tool appears to make it easier for people to get involved in grassroots level political campaigns. In many ways, the Meetup tool fills the role of a "connector" described by Gladwell (2000). Taken from a different angle, the ways in which this scheduling tool has been used, and what it has allowed, challenge a key assertion of the Amplification Model proposed by Phil Agre (2002). Agre alleged that the Internet does not make people interested in politics, but rather supports those who are already interested. The "meetup" tool, the ways in which it has been used, and the degree to which it has lowered participation burdens, have facilitated people’s involvement in political action. The power of context is also at play here. The urgency of the issues has made activists of many people who never before participated. Support for this assertion is provided by the testimonials available at the organizing Web sites, such as the posting on a meetup group for Howard Dean in Bloomington where the correspondee said it was the first time that she had been involved politically in an activist group. As a resource, the Meetup tool, accessible to anyone who has Internet access, has given more people more opportunities to turn their concerns into actions.

 

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The Web sites we studied

MoveOn and Stormfront are foci for a variety of ideas centered on goals and activities that can be defined as part of the civil society. While their activities may involve interacting with "the State" and with agents of the State, neither movement is part of the State. Both MoveOn and Stormfront were started, and organized, by small numbers of private citizens. In the case of Stormfront, a single individual was the moving force.

MoveOn

MoveOn’s mission is:

"... to bring ordinary people back into politics ... MoveOn is a catalyst for a new kind of grassroots involvement, supporting busy but concerned citizens in finding their political voice. [They have an] international network of more than 2,000,000 online activists ... [10]

"[MoveOn] builds electronic advocacy groups. Examples of such issues are campaign finance, environmental and energy issues, impeachment, gun safety, and nuclear disarmament. Once a group is assembled, MoveOn provides information and tools to help each individual have the greatest possible impact." [11]

Following the September 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City, the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., and the crash of an airliner in the Pennsylvania countryside, MoveOn started a new phase. Eli Pariser joined the MoveOn team at that juncture and became a key player:

"The MoveOn Peace campaign was founded independently as "9-11Peace.org" by Eli Pariser ... In the days following September 11, 2001, he launched an online petition calling for a peaceful response to break the cycle of violence, which was quickly signed by more than one hundred thousand people in the U.S. and almost half a million worldwide. Eli joined forces with MoveOn soon afterward, and is now International Campaigns Director." [12]

Although MoveOn has been in existence since September 1998, the organization, its online campaigns and Web site, gained media attention during the 2002-2003 United States military buildup in preparation for the invasion of Iraq. At that time, MoveOn’s activities centered on supporting the United Nations’ weapons inspections teams in Iraq and promoting peaceful alternatives to war. The MoveOn Peace campaign brought MoveOn, as well as Eli Pariser, into the public eye. On 9 March 2003, the article "Smart-Mobbing the War" appeared in the New York Times Magazine. It described MoveOn’s campaign and Eli Pariser’s role in the organization. The article raised public awareness of MoveOn and Eli Pariser, as well as, once again (as has been so often seen in popular media over the past decade) heralding the possibilities for social activism that could be harnessed through the use of the Internet. In the months following the advent of the United States invasion of Iraq, MoveOn developed its activist campaigns and outreach to include a straw poll of Democratic hopefuls to the White House. This ongoing activity, in conjunction with MoveOn’s well-developed media campaign, has kept MoveOn in the public eye.

Stormfront

Stormfront, too, has had its share of media attention, though often in a much more controversial vein. The Stormfront site has the distinction of being the first white supremacist site on the World Wide Web [13]. Below the headline with the name Stormfront.org, the home page displays the titles "White Pride World Wide" and "White Nationalist Resource Page." How the site is identified by others not affiliated with the movement, and what those who run it call their movement, is a tricky and complex subject [14]. On his personal Web page, which can be accessed from the Stormfront home page, Don Black describes himself as having "been active in the White patriot movement for 30 years ..." (Black, 2003b). Launched by Don Black in March 1995 [15], the Stormfront site set an example followed by other extremist groups. In March 1995, Stormfront was the only recognized white-pride (separatist/supremacist) Web site online. Although different statistics exist for extremist groups online, depending on the studies of different watchdog organizations, the number of white supremacist sites has been growing. According to Levin (2002), there was one white supremacist group online in 1995. There were 254 hate sites online in 1999; and 305 hate sites online in early 2000 (Southern Poverty Law Center, 2000). By 2000, there were 366 extremist sites online, and the number was raised to 405 in 2001 (Southern Poverty Law Center, 2002). According to the Simon Wiesenthal Center, there were 1,400 hate sites online in 1999 (Simon Wiesenthal Center, 2000). There were more than 3,000 problematic sites online in 2002 (Simon Wiesenthal Center, 2002). Still, numbers alone are not an indication of influence. David Goldman, a former HateWatch.org director, addressed the proposition that the increase of the number of hate sites is merely keeping up with the growth of the Internet (Networker@USC, 1999).

Instead, we have to look for the ways in which the influence of the online presence may be measured in the world "outside." Influence may be greater than, or less than, the numbers indicate. In a 1997 article from the Birmingham News (accessible from Don Black’s homepage), Black, the founder of Stormfront, is quoted as saying:

""What I’m doing in some ways is more passive, but in other ways I think it is a lot more effective," Black, who operates out of his home in West Palm Beach, Fla., said last week during a visit to Huntsville.

Those who monitor hate groups don’t disagree, and express concern that Black’s pioneering use of the Internet to recruit new followers and link existing hate groups makes him more influential — and potentially more dangerous — than ever." [16]

Both Black and the representatives of the watchdog groups speak of the potentiality for influence of Stormfront’s Web presence. But as can be noted by the language used here as in other arenas, the effect of the Web is currently difficult to gauge. Compounding the difficulty of measuring the direct effect of the Stormfront’s online presence is that its recruiting efforts and the effects of any of the content of its online presence and activity are not openly and directly publicized. Chip Berlet of Political Research Associates (quoted in the Summer 2001 Intelligence Report of the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC)) states:

"Has the Internet been very successful for hate groups for recruitment of card-carrying members into established organizations? The answer is no ... But has the Internet helped more alienated young white men focus their anger on scapegoats like Jews or blacks? Yes." [17]

The same report from SPLC offers:

"... in many ways, the real action for extremists on the Internet lies elsewhere. There is a growing consensus of experts who study hate on the Web that the presence of such sites is not nearly as important as another aspect of the Internet — the more private, text-based venues such as e-mail, discussion groups, chat rooms and the like ... For those who are not members of hate groups, these venues allow a safe exploration of extremist ideology — one in which no physical commitment is made. For people who are members, discussion groups have been likened to a virtual cross-burning — a kind of hatefest in which participants reinforce one another’s racist views." [18]

While both MoveOn and Stormfront offer discussion forums, our initial analysis concerns the ways in which the Web sites appeal to potential participants and invite participation and identification with the particular cause.

 

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Mobilizing resources

We identified the following four resources: Knowledge, credibility (access to credible information — the issue of credibility also comes into play with the ways in which the Web site links to, or is linked to, from other authoritative and credible sources), interpersonal interaction (sociability), and identity support (validation of personal identity and group identity). We will discuss these resources individually, as well as describe how these resources interact with each other. We will also discuss the importance of the context in which these resources are used.

Knowledge

As a category, knowledge can include the knowledge of the organizers as well as of the participants. In the former case, this includes the knowledge necessary for the site creators to build the Web site, get it online, update it, and adapt it; the knowledge of making media connections; knowledge of who the potential audiences are; and, knowledge of the competition or opposition. In the latter case, the availability of knowledge about the grassroots activities (white supremacist and anti-war), about how the participants can get involved, and about how they can communicate with people who have similar visions and ideas influence participation.

All of the originators of the Web sites, as well as significant contributors, such as Don Black, Eli Pariser, and Joan Blades, and Wes Boyd, share a number of key characteristics that enabled them to take advantage of certain opportunities to respond to situations important to each of them. Each of them had the technical knowledge, opportunities to use that knowledge, awareness of social organization, and a personal network to rely upon. They also had knowledge of cultural symbols that could be drawn upon for social mobilization (Tarrow, 1998).

From the participants’ viewpoint, knowledge as a mobilizing resource was put into action by every individual who forwarded the e-mail messages they received from MoveOn. Consciously or unconsciously, they were tapping into the knowledge of social networks. Through dissemination of information resources (i.e., print, Internet, mass media), global knowledge became personal knowledge. Personal knowledge spread out through social networks that in turn extended beyond local activities.

Identity support

Identification, i.e., self-representation, is the way in which an individual or organization aligns itself with an ideology, with traits, and/or beliefs. It is a type of brand marketing. In order to be effective ("sellable" as it were), the identification has to be readily recognizable and accessible to the audience, and in the cases under study, to the potential participant. The identification can serve to create a sense of community, as well as promote loyalty. This type of branding becomes a way by which participants have their sense of identity supported.

Branding is a form of "stickiness." The memorable symbol can become a powerful tool for group identification. While form includes much more than images and layout, and may include such things as the shaping of the narrative of these Web sites (Bell, 2001), one of the most noticeable areas in which we found strong elements of "identification" in the two sites was through the use of imagery and icons. Both the Stormfront and MoveOn sites make use of iconic colors and shapes.

The key graphic elements in the MoveOn site are the design and colors of the header and the colors used in the fonts of the site’s title and subtitle. The site prominently uses the colors red, white, and blue. The use of these colors is not surprisingly evoking as it does association with the United States flag and with a call to patriotic action. The banner-like sweep of the colors in the header are presented (from left to right) in the order white, blue, and red. The header of the site has a blue and red design that hints at a furling flag. The colors and the shape of the design give a hint of the United States flag and are similar to the colors used by the major political U.S. parties (i.e., Democratic and Republican) on their Web sites. The two slim sidebars on the left of the MoveOn home page are colored red (the top one), and blue (the bottom one). The title MoveOn.org is in a dark blue; the subtitle "Democracy in Action" is in red.

For all of this, the site does not employ the stars and stripes elements of the United States flag that are prominently displayed, for example, on the sites of the Democratic National Committee (at http://www.democrats.org/) and the Republican National Committee (at http://www.rnc.org/). Another difference between the MoveOn design and that of the two major political parties is that the MoveOn site uses strong diagonals and fluid lines, that evoke a sense of movement, energy, and dynamism, whereas the sites of the two political parties use boxy and rectangular designs, which evoke a sense of stability.

The Stormfront site makes strong use of the colors black, gray, red, white, and a small amount of blue. These colors (i.e., black, gray, red, and white) are often used in Nazi and neo-Nazi iconography. The font, too, is reminiscent of titles used during the Nazi era. The Stormfront logo is prominently displayed at the top of the home page. The logo is a white Celtic cross in a black circular field [19]. Around the perimeter of the circle the slogan "White Pride World Wide" appears in bold, white, capital letters. The logo is framed by the title "Stormfront.org" above and "White Nationalist Resource Page" below. While the use of resonant colors and icons can be powerful, these in and of themselves do not necessarily engage the visitor to the site, nor are they necessarily calls to action.

Interpersonal interaction

There are many ways to frame a situation so as to mobilize potential participants. The MoveOn and Stormfront sites are involved in "naming grievances ... and constructing larger frames of meaning" [20]. The grievances are discussed by visitors to the Web sites in the discussion forums, and are delineated by the content providers of the site in the form of action requests, informational essays, and resource links.

The Stormfront site presents a unified point of view, and yet that very presentation is a form of consensus formation. The voices of the opposition are not present here, except by inference in the articles that showcase racism as that which excludes and denigrates "White" people.

The MoveOn site, while presenting a single point of view, represents a more heterogeneous organization. Since it is event driven, those who are gathered in a common cause (whether to avert the start of war on Iraq, to nominate a Democratic candidate for the 2004 presidential election, and so on) may not share a strong overriding ideology. They do agree on the issues, but they vary on where they come from. It is important to note that Eli Pariser’s e-mail messages to MoveOn subscribers have been reported as playing a significant role in people’s engagement and participation. His messages are very personal, direct, and accessible. Many people took them seriously (Packer, 2003). Furthermore, both Eli Pariser and Don Black, who started Stormfront, make themselves personally accessible (at least claim that they do) via e-mail.

Participation in e-forums is another venue for interpersonal interaction. Such participation can be affected by many aspects. Hara and Kling (in press) discuss the following five factors to consider when evaluating e-forums: Who can participate and who is excluded; what are the genres of acceptable communication; what activities can participants engage in; who controls and reinforces the norms; and, what are the acceptable conventions and norms. Each of these factors will be elaborated below for the two sites we studied.

First, e-forum organizers and participants need to determine who can participate and who is excluded. MoveOn operates within the mainstream of society; Stormfront operates in the public margins. Their sites, including form and content, reveal these different social positions in the ways in which the Web sites are organized and in the ways in which the content is worded and accessed. While MoveOn and Stormfront both require registration to participate in their e-forums, the policy for posting messages is distinctly different. MoveOn’s policy insists on identification of the participants: "Our philosophy for public discourse is that individuals need to put their name and reputation behind their comment, just as in any other public venue." [21] By contrast, the Stormfront Forum monikers are overwhelmingly pseudonymous. In addition, the registration form provides the opportunity to "Enter the username of the forum member who referred you to this forum." [22] This option enhances the sense of a closed community. Moreover, having to register to gain access to a site requires a certain amount of commitment by the visitor, which may possibly lead to repeat visits. Eventually they may become regular participants.

Second, the genres of acceptable communication are often established in e-forums. For example, some mailing lists for professional organizations periodically send out messages that list the rules for the mailing lists, such as what and what not to send to the lists. E-forums need to articulate what topics are appropriate for their e-forums. Whereas Stormfront does not provide explicit guidelines for member postings, MoveOn does provide explicit guidelines called "Rules of Engagement", such as the admonition not to attack others.

Third, participants’ activities (e.g., speak/post, read, role-play, buy, sell, etc.) need to be identified. These activities are not limited to e-forums, but also extend to Web sites. The MoveOn site provides links to "Speak Out", "Tell Others", or "Help Out": Actions which can be taken from the site. There are petition letters that can be sent from the MoveOn site to elected officials, as well as other opportunities to be engaged in action for "the cause." As Boyd (2003) notes, huge goals are broken down into smaller pieces so that they are actionable. The individual can do something right now by taking one small step. The Stormfront site also provides opportunities for community building and educational outreach.

Fourth, social control agents and practices need to be clarified. Some e-forums are established and enforced by e-forum organizers and some by participants. Stormfront e-forums are moderated. In addition, the language is filtered via computer search and selected vocabulary may be blanked. On the other hand, MoveOn’s e-forum is uncensored and user-moderated.

Fifth, communication practices are established and become conventionalized. This category concerns norms for online behaviors. Do they politely correct others or flame them? Such conventions allow the community to form a unique culture and atmosphere.

Credibility and stickiness

Links to external resources, and links from credible sites, are one way to establish the credibility of a Web site. The manner in which links are set up within a site can also affect the stickiness of that site (Shaw, 2001). If all or many links are self-contained, the visitor is stuck in that place. One way to measure the credibility of a site, as well as to find out how people are discovering the site, is to find the number of pages that link to that Web site — both internally and externally. We searched with the search engines AllTheWeb.com and AltaVista using the search terms link:stormfront.org, link:moveon.org, and link:moveon.com to discover how many other Web pages linked to the sites under consideration (both MoveOn.org and MoveOn.com refer to the same site). We were able to distinguish which links originated external to the site and which links originated within the site. The relationship between credibility and the links from other sites is discussed by Burbules and Callister (1997):

"The web of links that constitutes the Internet (especially the Word Wide Web itself) is a vast network of relations of credibility: the people who establish active links to reliable information, and whose information or viewpoints are in turn identified and recommended by others, gain credibility both as users of information and as providers of it (another way in which these dynamics are linked). We might call this network a system of ‘distributed credibility.’"

At a surface level, the most salient observation is that the Stormfront site includes many more self-referential links than the MoveOn site (see Table 1 for summary). On AltaVista, we were able to narrow the search by eliminating links that originated within the site. An unrestricted search for links to Stormfront.org resulted in 81,373 returns; a restricted search (eliminating links from Stormfront.org) resulted in 2,277 returns. An unrestricted search for links to MoveOn.org resulted in 20,302 returns; an unrestricted search resulted in 19,917 returns. The search for links on MoveOn.com (also owned by MoveOn.org) resulted in 120 returns for an unrestricted search and 119 for a restricted search. The percentage of links originating (and ending) within the site are much higher for Stormfront than for MoveOn. According to the AllTheWeb searches, 26.3 percent of the links in the Stormfront Web site stay within the site, as compared to only 3.0 percent of the links in the MoveOn site. According to the AltaVista searches, 97.0 percent of the Stormfront links lead to pages on the Web site, as compared to 1.9 percent of the links on the MoveOn site [23]. These linking patterns have implications regarding credibility and "stickiness."

That the Stormfront site has proportionally many more internal links than the MoveOn site has two implications. First, Stormfront appears to be attempting to keep visitors within their site by limiting external links. This might decrease the number of visitors who would leave their site, but, at the same time, it seems to also decrease their credibility. Second, the MoveOn site has most of its links to and from outside sources. This in and of itself may increase their credibility because they are referred to by other sites other than themselves. Of course, the credibility of sites is determined by not only the number of links connected to the site (or from the Web site out), but also by what kinds of sites link to and are linked to the site in question. This is an area that requires further investigation.

 

Table 1: Links to Web sites [24].

  Stormfront.org MoveOn.org MoveOn.com
AllTheWeb.com search engine, unrestricted search [ e.g., link.all:stormfront.org] 32,451 167,650 99
AllTheWeb.com search engine, restricted search 23,922 162,552 101 [25]
Links originating within the Web site 8,529 5,098 not available
Percentage of links originating within the Web site 26.3 3.0  
AltaVista.com search engine, unrestricted search 81,373 20,302 120
AltaVista.com search engine, restricted search (eliminating links from the same site) 2,277 19,917 119
Links originating within the Web site 79,096 385 1
Percentage of links originating within the Web site 97.0 1.9 0.8

 

 

++++++++++

Discussion

Time factors

As noted earlier, resources need to be examined and discussed in conjunction with the context within which they are used. From an organizational context, MoveOn and Stormfront begin from very different bases; yet they share key similarities. Both operate within the social milieu of the United States that, on principle and constitutionally, concedes room for the freedom of expression regardless of political perspective. Both MoveOn and Stormfront operate as grassroots movements or, more precisely, as the venue through which participants in grassroots movements can find each other.

The ways in which the two Web sites address issues over time are indicative of both their social positions as well as the perspectives the people behind each site have attempted to express. Stormfront’s message is one derived from an agenda to "defend White culture." As a purportedly cultural battle, the timeframe for their message is continuous, insofar as the "cause" is an ongoing one. The timeframe for the messages and issues presented on MoveOn, while based on a desire to bring about a more equitable society in which citizens are involved in the democratic processes of government, are presented in discrete, time-delimited chunks — most dramatically triggered by September 11 and energized by the United States’ invasion of Iraq. Issues are focused so as to allow engagement in civic action in short that is immediate timeframes.

The distinct nature of the timeframes embraced by each Web site is also played out in the types of events and backgrounds depicted on the sites. The MoveOn site reflects an agenda that is event-driven while having a continuous ideological founding. Conversely, the Stormfront site reflects an agenda that is ideology-driven, yet that ideology is underscored by particular historic circumstances (the purported disenfranchisement of "White people"). To reiterate, the MoveOn Web presence is characterized by the presentation of discrete events accompanied by suggestions for direct, immediate action. The MoveOn site, as well as the recent peace movement, has attracted participants who have diverse backgrounds and who have been spurred to "connect" and act by specific events. This short-term action approach may make it difficult for MoveOn to retain continuously high levels of participation from its members. On the other hand, the shortcomings of a quick, action-oriented approach may be offset by ideological commitment.

The Stormfront Web presence is characterized by the continual presentation of a strong ideological stance which is accompanied by resource materials intended to "educate" the visitor about the contents of the Web site and to reinforce the attitudes and beliefs of those who may be in sympathy with the ideology and point of view presented on the Stormfront site. Because of their ideological drive, Stormfront may have more difficulty recruiting participants; however, once they join the organization and agree on its vision, participants may stay together for an extended period of time.

Media effects

In his Amplification Model, Agre (2002) argues that people who are interested in certain issues can be connected by using the Internet. The Internet connections amplify the effects that go on in the network; yet he indicates that the Internet is a poor medium for the recruitment of people who are not interested in certain topics, such as politics. The network is strengthened and reinforced, but not expanded. We assert that the Internet, as it is used by these movements, builds on the amplification effect to reach out to other media. This not only amplifies the network but also expands it beyond the Internet. We concur with Agre in a sense that the Internet, as an entity, does not expand the network, nor is it capable of doing so. However, with the combination of other media, the network can go beyond the existing community.

Both the Stormfront and MoveOn sites have been widely covered by mass media — both in television programs and newspaper articles. Stormfront’s organizer, Don Black, appeared on the television program Nightline and was reported on in a number of newspaper articles during the late 1990s (see Black, 2003a). The majority of the articles and reports were coming out of resistance to sites like Stormfront. Some parents were concerned about children having access to problematic Web sites. The discussions were focused largely on issues of filtering and regulation of sites. MoveOn received much media attention during 2003 (Boyd, 2003; Lee, 2003; Leland, 2003; Packer, 2003; Rosenbaum, 2003) when the United States government was promoting a possible war in Iraq. The press coverage of MoveOn primarily emphasized the technological aspects of the movement’s organization. MoveOn was the new electronic "whiz kid" on the block. Regardless of how the media portray these sites, the effect of print media has impacted social movements in general since the eighteenth century (Tarrow, 1998). Tarrow discusses that availability of information through print transformed locally organized actions to global collective action. It is applicable to both mass media, such as television and newspapers, as well as the Internet. People have become more aware of Stormfront and MoveOn through media beyond the Internet. The effects of such media coverage on participant recruitment can be hypothesized and should be studied. One problem of the effects of mass media is that the vast majority of the media outlets are controlled by large corporations. There is a danger that divergent voices may be suppressed or recast. As Herman and Chomsky (2002) put it, the mass media have the power to manufacture consensus. The ability of the media to frame Internet-based activities — and, thus, to promote diverse perspectives for good or ill — should be scrutinized.

MoveOn has not passively waited on newspaper reporters to contact them. An important strategy that MoveOn has incorporated was the savvy use of print media and television for advertising purposes. MoveOn has run full-page advertisements in the New York Times several times since December 2002 to promote their message. In addition, they aired a commercial to advertise their organization on television. They asked people for donations to buy air times for the commercial. As such, they have not just relied on their Web site to spread their visions, ideas, and actions, but they have knowingly used other media to connect with the non-virtual world. This strategy has most likely contributed to the increase in participant recruitment and their expanding network.

 

++++++++++

Conclusions

Not all resources are created equal. The effect of a resource on an organization, and subsequently on the context in which the organization operates, is dependent on the nature of that resource and its ability to alter the power and efficiency of the organization. With a technological resource such as the World Wide Web, other resources traditionally considered catalysts can be enhanced in their function, or replaced by other activities. The immediacy of the Web increases the efficiency with which resources, e.g., knowledge, can be disseminated. Since its release to the general public, the Web has been touted as a cheap outlet for the publication and distribution of information, as Tarrow (1998) mentions the printing press was in the eighteenth century. On the other hand, it has more recently become (almost) axiomatic that "If you build it, they will NOT necessarily come." [26]

Both MoveOn and Stormfront appear to be aware of this underlying assumption when they use the Internet to mobilize their resources. To say that MoveOn is more popular and, potentially, more effective than Stormfront because its activities are more mainstream, its message is one of greater universality, and its content providers are more knowledgeable in the ways of reaching both their audience and the individuals and parties they hope to transform, is to miss key issues. It is not just a matter of the content, but the different strategies used to mobilize resources, activities, and participants.

What we have at this stage of our research is a framework that adapts the Resource Mobilization Theory to take into account audience and potential participants, time and timing (which speaks to the ways in which a particular group may be more or less accurately reflecting a social need in the society in which it is embedded), and power and viability. The last two elements mentioned are delicate because, it could be argued, power is the result of a broad constellation of resources, activities, and systems, and that it cannot easily be identified or quantified.

This article started with a question about the effectiveness of the Internet on grassroots activities. The next step for us is to continue developing a matrix for measuring the effect, as well as the effectiveness, of the Internet’s presence in grassroots activities. For example, with MoveOn, some of the effects of the organization, movement, and the Web site are easier to gauge than is true in the case of Stormfront. Online petitions can be counted (or at least the numbers are reported); e-mail messages directed to government stakeholders, senators, representatives, and/or the President of the United States can also, to some extent, be measured. Things such as the percentage of people who show up at a peace vigil specifically because of the information and influence of the Web activity of the movement can also be indirectly traced. In this latter case, indicators, such as the photographs submitted to the MoveOn Web site by peace demonstrators, can serve as markers of the connection between the Web presence, the activities on the ground, and the extent to which the purposes and goals of the organization are being met.

As Kling and Lamb (2003) advocate, we need to treat users as social actors who are embedded in various social contexts — only a portion of which includes information and communication technologies, including the Internet. When we analyze the use of the Internet to mobilize grassroots activities, we need to consider the Internet within a framework that extends beyond the analysis of isolated Web sites and computer-mediated communication. The world is not cut-off by the Internet; we need to take other social forces, such as media, time frames, and resources into consideration. Everything is connected. End of article

 

About the Authors

Noriko Hara is an Assistant Professor of Information Science at Indiana University, Bloomington. Her research focuses on topics within social informatics, such as the roles of the Internet in mobilizing civil society movements, online learning, and professional communication in a digital economy.
Web: http://ella.slis.indiana.edu/~nhara

Zilia C. Estrada is a doctoral student at Indiana University in the School of Library and Information Science. She is researching how communication and information technologies are complicating the creation of narratives about communal identity of indigenous peoples in the public sphere of museums and cyberspace.

 

Acknowledgements

We gratefully acknowledge the helpful insights and comments of Blaise Cronin, Phil Eskew, and Rob Kling. An earlier version of this paper was presented at the annual meeting of the Society for Social Studies of Science, Atlanta, Ga., 2003.

 

Notes

1. The Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center does not list Stormfront as a hate group in their list of 602 hate groups that were active in 2000. "Entities that appear to exist only in cyberspace are not included because they are likely to be individual Web publishers who like to portray themselves as powerful, organized groups. This listing contains all known chapters of hate organizations." Intelligence Project, Southern Poverty Law Center; see http://www.splcenter.org/cgi-bin/goframe.pl?dirname=/intelligenceproject&pagename=ip-2.html, accessed 15 August 2003.

2. One strategy for establishing authority is providing resources to "authoritative" sources, or at the least giving the impression of doing so. The Stormfront archives provide ample links to articles posted on the site itself.

3. Coalition of Labor Union Women, at http://www.cluw.org/, accessed 9 September 2003; AFL-CIO America’s Union Movement, at http://www.aflcio.org/, accessed 9 September 2003; Union Resources Network, at http://www.unions.org/, accessed 9 September 2003; Web Guides: Labor Unions: United States, The Institute of Industrial Relations Library, University of California, Berkeley, at http://www.iir.berkeley.edu/library/webguides/unionsgd.html, accessed 9 September 2003; and thousands of other online resources (1,210,000 hits on the phrase "labor unions" as of 9 September 2003).

4. The following are a sampling of Web sites about Burma, democracy, and human rights:

Free Burma, at http://freeburma.org/
The Burma Campaign UK, at http://www.burmacampaign.org.uk/
Burma relief mission: South Africa Indymedia, at http://southafrica.indymedia.org/news/2003/07/4232.php
Burma Watch International: A society for human rights, at http://www.burmawatch.org/
Free Burma Coalition, at http://www.freeburmacoalition.org/frames/Press%20Releases/sanfrancdivests.htm

All of the above were all accessed on 12 September 2003.

5. Danitz and Strobel, 1999, p. 260.

6. Arquilla and Ronfeldt, 2001, p. 182, footnote 15.

7. Martinez-Torres, 2001, p. 349.

8. Arquilla and Ronfeldt, 2001, p. 185.

9. The initial appearance online of Eli Pariser’s e-mail and Web site in response to the events of September 11 eventually "met up with" the responses of Joan Blades, Wes Boyd, and the rest of the MoveOn team. This "meeting of the minds" led to a new MoveOn Web site, e-mail campaigns, and bulletins which has grown and adapted as the situation at the national government level has altered and prompted new forms of response.

10. "MoveOn.Org Frequently Asked Questions: What is MoveOn all about?" at http://www.moveon.org/about/#s1, accessed 26 June 2003.

11. "MoveOn.Org Frequently Asked Questions: What Does MoveOn Do?" at http://www.moveon.org/about/, accessed 26 August 2003.

12. "MoveOn.Org Frequently Asked Questions: What Does MoveOn Do?" at http://www.moveon.org/about/ (accessed 26 August 2003.

13. "Poisoning the Web: Hatred Online: Internet Bigotry, Extremism and Violence, Anti-Defamation League," at http://www.adl.org/poisoning_web/introduction.asp, accessed 26 June 2003.

14. The meta tags in the source code for the Stormfront home page include the following content list and keywords. They are indicative of the self-awareness of the Web site creators:

<meta name="Description" content="White Nationalist Resource: links portal, discussion board, IRC chatrooms, audio/video/MP3/graphics libraries, kids page, pro-White webhosting">
<meta name="KeyWords" content="Stormfront,Storm Front,Don Black,David Duke,White power,chatroom,message board,White rights,nationalism,White nationalist,anti-White,racism,racist,Aryan,KKK,Ku Klux Klan,Klu,supremacy,Jewish supremacist,supremist">

This was not an area of use that could be compared with the MoveOn site; it did not include meta tags in the site’s source code at the time of our study.

15. The Firebrand: Louis Beam, revolutionary leader, fire-breathing orator and racist strategist par excellence, could be facing his Waterloo, Center Information, Southern Poverty Law Center, at http://www.splcenter.org/cgi-bin/goframe.pl?dirname=/.&pagename=sitemap.html, accessed 26 June 2003.

16. Kent Faulk, 1997. "White supremacist spreads views on net," Birmingham News (19 October; linked to from Don Black’s Web site, a link on the Stormfront Web site, at http://www.stormfront.org/dblack/press101997.htm, accessed 26 June 2003.

17. Summer 2001 Intelligence Report of the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).

18. Op.cit.

19. "Originally a symbol for the Celts of ancient Ireland and Scotland, the Celtic cross has been appropriated by many white supremacist groups, beginning with the far-right National Front in England." From "Fight Hate and Promote Tolerance: Hate on the Internet," Tolerance.org, a Web project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, at http://www.tolerance.org/hate/hate_internet/stormfront.html, accessed 16 July 2003.

20. Tarrow, 1998, p. 110.

21. "MoveOn, Action Forum" registration page, at http://www.actionforum.com/forum/signin.html, accessed 12 August 2003.

22. "Stormfront, Forum Registration," at http://www.stormfront.org/forum/register.php, accessed 12 August 2003.

23. The numbers from the Google search engine did not make the distinction between links within the Web site and links that went outside the site. Since we were aiming to show that distinction, it did not seem relevant to include those figures.

24. The results were collected on 21 July 2003, between 12:30 pm and 1:30 pm.

25. This is an anomaly: A higher count for a restricted search.

26. A play on the catch phrase from the film Field of Dreams: "If you build it, they will come."

 

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Editorial history

Paper received 28 October 2003; accepted 11 November 2003.


Contents Index

Copyright ©2003, First Monday

Copyright ©2003, Noriko Hara and Zilia Estrada

Hate and peace in a connected world: Comparing MoveOn and Stormfront by Noriko Hara and Zilia Estrada
First Monday, volume 8, number 12 (December 2003),
URL: http://firstmonday.org/issues/issue8_12/hara/index.html





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