Competitively posting selfies that represent hate? This is a contest you do not want to win.
As we mark the 100 year anniversary of the first world war, we look back toward the historical events that have ensued because of it. Needless to say, a result of this war was the second world war and Nazi Germany. Although lessons have been learned in these past 70+ years, there are still many who support the work of Hitler.
VKontakte, Russia’s FaceBook equivalent, recently saw its site overrun by Pro-Nazi groups in support of one contest in particular. That contest was the “Miss Hitler Pageant.” Just as the name implies, the competition rules are quite intuitive:
- Be a woman
- Be a Nazi.
- Be a woman Nazi.
- Be a woman who hates Jews.
- Be a member of the Hitler VKontakte group.
- Post a sexy Nazi pic.
- Get other Nazis to like your pic.
- Don’t insult other women’s pictures.
The page was not closed right away, but following breaches to the website’s terms of service a local media watchdog deleted the page effectively cancelling the contest. These terms included “loading, storing, publishing, disseminating, making available or otherwise using any information which: propagandizes and/or contributes to racial, religious, ethnic hatred or hostility, propagandizes fascism or racial superiority” (NYDailyNews.com). One might question the right to freedom of speech in publicizing opinions through social media. However, when freedom of speech violates the conditions of the website then they can be effectively muted in spreading their ideas in a hateful manner.
Image courtesy of Flickr user: Ksablan
Another concern is that this is not an isolated case. Although this single group was shut down, there are reportedly over 300 such groups ranging from 5,000-30,000 members. Is there anything we can do to prevent these pages from rising in popularity before another threat occurs? I don’t think that FaceBook offshoot sites in Eastern European companies would have the technological capability of monitoring these pages thoroughly enough to prevent such hatred from becoming more widespread. It may seem far-fetched to say that such pages may lead to larger societal issues, but we should remember the words of George Santayana, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Anti-Semitic beliefs began somewhere before the world was shocked by the results. Who’s to say that social media, left unfiltered, couldn’t be the starting point for a similar such event?
Having visited Auschwitz this past month and seeing firsthand the death camps in which so many lost their lives and experienced atrocities, I find this online contest absolutely repulsive. To make a contest to support the killing of millions of people should be beyond us in 2014 but unfortunately it is not. ISIS’s use of social media has been used in a similar fashion although much more flagrant and explicit. ISIS is a topic covered very much in the news recently, but the fact that we do not hear of all these other hate groups online is alarming. As much as the ignorant would like to think that these things do not happen on social media sites every minute of every day, this is a frightening fact of social media that may never be fully eradicated.
Featured Image courtesy of Flickr user: Miss Q Pix