I saw a tweet tonight stating that the website MartinLutherKing.org was owned and operated by White Pride World – a white supremacy group. Intrigued, I clicked over to check it out. After all, deception at that level would be the epitome of evil, wouldn’t it? After landing on the site, it looked fine to me. Sure, it’s a shabby looking site – but not unreasonable for a small organization. Nothing on the page looked offensive. So I did a whois to find out who owned it. As it turns out, the website MartinLutherKing.org is owned by a group called StormFront.org. So I clicked over there. And was floored. Then I clicked back over to the MLK.org site and nosed around. Wow.
The original tweet suggested that teachers make sure their students research carefully. No kidding.
I’m a huge proponent of the Internet. We all are. For most of us, it’s a brilliant innovation that brings people from all over the planet together. And mostly, it’s a good thing. Sure, it’s not always accurate. And yes, too many ignorant people have too much influence, but for the most part what most of see and experience on the Internet promotes positive agendas. Mostly. Yes, there are always bad guys out there waiting to pounce on the naive or unsuspecting – but you get that in real life too. You just do your best to prepare for it. What you don’t prepare for in real life is walzing into a KKK boutique with your children when it looks like a toy store from the outside.
Have you ever mistakenly typed .com when you meant to type .org (or vice versa)? How many charitable organizations do you know of that use the .org extension? So when you see propaganda like the MLK.org site you have to wonder just how far people will go to promote an agenda that rips people apart. We build communities here, not tear them down. Sure, we have our differences and even get into digital wars over ideas, but to actively deceive people like this is beyond grievance. It’s pure decption – and they’re going for the children. Clever bastards.
I’ve often wondered how people with an agenda of hate might go about harnessing the power of the Internet. Until tonight, I’d always figured that if it did happen, it would be a fairly straightforward thing. Boy, was I wrong.
Teachers make sure your students research carefully, indeed. Parents – this is why, despite your strict google settings, you can’t be too careful about giving your children the keys to the Internet. Because as long as there are sheep, there are wolves.
Note: I am not saying that hate groups should be banned from the Internet or that they’re wrong and I’m right. That would be a pretentious, and a non-American position. Indeed, hate helps us recognize and appreciate the opposite. What I am saying is that this kind of deceit and manipulation disturbs me. And it should disturb you.