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Hitler Youth

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Baraboo High School Junior Prom photograph.

COMMENT: This society has been sowing the Nazi and fascist winds for a long time. Failing to come to terms with the Nazi and fascist sympathies of American industrialists who financed Hitler, the incorporation of the Nazi SS into the CIA via the Gehlen org, and the incorporation of Eastern and Central European SS-allied fascists into the GOP has borne its inevitable fruit.

Now it will be reaping the Nazi whirlwind.

An extremely popular children’s lip-synching app called TikTok has incorporated murderously racist invective against people of color and Jews, in addition to sharing overtly Nazi propaganda.

Even as officialdom and the media downplay or outright dismiss the Junior Prom photo from Baraboo High School, we should expect things to become dramatically worse.

Time grows short. Tik Tok!

1. “TikTok Has a Nazi Problem” by Joseph Cox; Vice Motherboard; 2/18/2018. [6]

Users on mega popular children’s lip-synching app TikTok [7] are sharing calls for violence against people of colour and Jews, as well as creating and sharing neo-Nazi propaganda, Motherboard has found.

Some accounts verbatim read “kill all n*****,” “all jews must die,” and “killn******.” (The words are uncensored on the app, which is a sort of melding of Vine and Instagram that allows users to create short videos synced to music.)

Motherboard found the content on the Chinese-made app, which is used by hundreds of millions people, many including teenagers and children in the United States, within minutes of starting a basic search.

“We’ve never talked to Tik Tok, but clearly we need to,” Heidi Beirich, director of the intelligence project at the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), told Motherboard in an email. “They need the site to be cleaned up—and now.”

The news signals social media platforms’ continued reckoning with hate speech [8]. But even with Facebook mishandling its approach to white nationalism [9], and Discord providing a haven [10] for serious neo-Nazi groups, TikTok is doing a particularly bad job at moderating white supremacists on its platform.

The hate speech material on TikTok is varied. Some accounts signaled support for Atomwaffen, a violent neo-Nazi group [11] linked to the murders of several Jewish people across the United States. One account Motherboard found was called “Race War Now.” The user profile photo of another account was of an offensive caricature of a Jewish person, depicting a greedy rat.

One video contained a succession of users making Nazi salutes. Another video included the message, “I have a solution; a final solution,” referring to the Holocaust.

Hashtags include 1488, a number important to neo-Nazis, and Sieg Heil, the infamous Nazi slogan.

One TikTok video Motherboard found, which encourages viewers to read Siege, a book popular with neo-Nazis, included the hashtag #FreeDylannRoof. Roof was given nine consecutive life sentences for the massacre of nine African Americans at the historically Black Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina in 2015.

“It’s just outrageous and dangerous, given how many young people, like Dylann Roof, have been radicalized online and then shifted to violence,” Beirich said.

TikTok merged with the app Musical.ly in August [12], after ByteDance purchased the latter in 2017. The app has garnered wide praise both from its army of users and media outlets; the New York Times recently described TikTok [13] as “the only good app,” and the Verge called it “joyful.” [14]

When contacted by Motherboard, TikTok did not provide a statement in time for publication.

Beirich said what Motherboard found “is horrifying. That is especially true since this service targets children and I can’t think of worse things to be putting in front of them.” Some of the people in and sharing the offensive videos appear to be children. Some of the accounts say that the posts are a “joke” or “ironic,” but as Motherboard has reported multiple times, these “jokes” can and do radicalize real people [10] and nonetheless harm already marginalized groups [15].

Caroline Sinders, research fellow with Digital HKS [16], who has studied online extremism, told Motherboard in an online chat, “I don’t think it matters even if something is a humorous joke in meme culture, I think it’s important to a center a platform’s policies on harassment and hate speech.”

“‘killallni****s’ isn’t a joke; I would argue it is a form of hate speech,” she added.

Some accounts do complain about being reported by other users. One user who complained as such hosted a video of someone in a Klu-Klux Klan style cloaks.

At the time of writing, TikTok’s terms of use [17] state that “TikTok is an inclusive community. It is not ok to attack or incite violence against other users.”

Motherboard has previously found other content moderation issues with TikTok. Earlier this month, Motherboard found people were soliciting [7] nude images of young users on the platform.

ByteDance recently said it would increase the number [18] of content moderators on TikTok from 6,000 to 10,000 people.

Correction: This article previously said TikTok merged with an app called Music.ly. The correct name is Musical.ly. Motherboard regrets the error.

2.   “Wisconsin Schoolboys in Nazi Salute Photo ‘Shouted White Power after Trump Elected’, Former Student Claims” by Tom Embury-Dennis [The Independent]Yahoo News; 11/13/2018. [19]

Former students at a Wisconsin school caught up in a Nazi salute storm [20] have spoken out about a troubled history of racism and intolerance among students, and a willingness among staff to turn a blind eye.

Police announced on Monday they were investigating after a photo emerged on social media [21] showing dozens of pupils – mostly 16 and 17 – from Baraboo High School apparently performing the “Sieg Heil” greeting during their junior prom.

One former student at the school in Baraboo, a town of around 12,000 people, said she knew some of the boys in the photo and that their behaviour was “definitely not surprising”.

“Some of the boys in this photo are notorious at our school for this kind of behaviour,” said the 19-year-old, who graduated earlier this year and wished to remain anonymous. “The day after Donald Trump [22] was elected, some of the boys in the photo were shouting “white power” in the hallways and telling the ESL (English as a second language) students to go back to their own countries.

“I went to a school official, the only one that would meet with me, and I was told to toughen up, that there was nothing he could do because it was the boy’s first amendment right and he wasn’t harming anyone.

“He then proceeded to tell me to watch videos of Black Lives Matter [23] protestors being hostile to police. I was stunned, and upset, and didn’t pursue it further because of the response I got when asking for help.”

She continued: “Basically, these boys use their privilege in horrible ways, knowing there will be no harsh consequences for their actions.”

The image of the teenagers performing the Nazi salute first surfaced on Twitter after it was shared by an account named “Welcome to Baraboo”. The post – now deleted – was captioned: “We even got the black kid to throw it up.”

A former student who graduated in 2016 told The Independent the Twitter account which posted the image was used to satirise the school and traditionally controlled by one or two senior students – including by him in his final year.

But this year, “essentially the entire senior class was given administrative access to the page”, allowing anyone to post on the social media platform.

The fact the photo was taken on the steps of the county courthouse, he said, was “almost symbolic of the systemic problem” Baraboo is facing.

Other current and former students shared their stories of the school with journalist Jules Suzdaltsev [24] after he posted the photo on Twitter.

“The use of the n-word was pretty common among white students,” one said, while another who graduated this year said their four years at the school was “full of hearing the n-word shouted down the hall and dealing with homophobia”.

In the photo, the huge majority of the group appear to be white, and all but a few appear to performing the salute.

Only one teenager in the picture is neither performing the salute, nor laughing. He told Mr Suzdaltsev he felt “uncomfortable” when the picture was taken and was unable to leave as it happened too fast. He said the photographer asked the students to make the sign.

“I knew what my morals were and it was not to salute something I firmly didn’t believe in,” he said. “I attend BHS (Baraboo High School), these classmates have bullied me since entering middle school, I have struggled with it my entire life and nothing has changed.”

Baraboo High School and the company allegedly hired to take the photograph have been contacted for comment.

“Unfortunately, based on what these students see coming from the White House, some of them may believe what they have done is acceptable,” Jon Erbenbach, a Democratic Wisconsin senator, said about the photo.

“It is absolutely not. Leaders, from the president on down, need to condemn racism in all its forms and work toward a world where we learn from the mistakes of history.”