A Long Island, N.Y., organization has taken another step toward ridding the Internet of hate material, persuading online auctioneer eBay to restrict the sale of hate-group memorabilia.
Last week biasHelp, which assists victims of hate crimes, snapped up the Internet rights to several domain names that carry racist implications, hoping to prevent hate groups from using the catchy names to attract prospective recruits.
The organization purchased the domain names swastikas.com, crossburning.com, whitesupremacists.com and klansmen.com, meaning Internet users who access those sites now find themselves linked to the biasHelp Web site, which offers information on fighting hate crimes.
''These two avenues, and there will be plenty more avenues we will pursue, are part of a Web initiative to address what we perceive to be a growing wave of hate on the Internet,'' said biasHelp spokesman Jeffrey Reynolds. ''It's important because when we see the statistics about who the average bias crime offender is, it's usually an adolescent male between 13 and 19. That's also a prime population that spends a lot of time surfing the Net.''
Last Friday, eBay spokesman Kevin Pursglove said the California-based auctioneer would stop selling material related to hate groups that was less than 50 years old, or which appeared to glorify extremism. The auctioneer, which claims 10 million registered clients and auctions items worth $10.5 million daily, will continue to list items that are deemed to have historic value.
The Internet has been used as a recruiting tool for extremist organizations since at least 1995, when the Stormfront Web page began espousing white supremacy, according to groups that monitor hate activity.
A recent search of eBay listings that included the letters ''KKK'' uncovered 186 items, including a pocket knife adorned with a figure wearing a hooded robe, and a lapel pin depicting ''a hooded klansman riding a robed horse while he is carrying a lighted torch.'' Both items had been listed before eBay changed its policy.
Last year, the Anti-Defamation League published ''Poisoning the Web: Hatred Online,'' which said extremist groups are turning to the Web because it offers low cost and relative anonymity.
''I certainly see people who have been in the hate movement for a long time are using this, and people are being drawn to join these groups,'' said ADL senior research analyst Jordan Kessler. ''There are certainly hundreds of these hate sites.''
Distributed by the Los Angeles Times-Washington Post News Service
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