No, we're not talking about vile blog commenters. A Jewish human rights group, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, released a report last week that says online terror and hate is on the rise, particularly on social-media sites.
According to a briefing detailed by The New York Times' Brad Stone, the Wiesenthal Center flagged about 8,000 "problematic" sites on the Web pertaining to terrorism and hate, a 30 percent increase from last year.
In addition to religious terror groups, the sites identified also pertain to anti-Semitic, racist, xenophobic, and various anti-religion and anti-government sentiments. And social media is a particular concern, with games, Facebook groups, and Second Life having been identified as potential communication and event-planning tools for terrorist and hate groups.
"Every aspect of the Internet is being used by extremists of every ilk to repackage old hatred, demean the 'Enemy,' to raise funds, and since 9/11, recruit and train Jihadist terrorists," the report detailed. "Of special concern is the use of the Internet by the Iranian regime to justify terrorism and spread its influence throughout South America."
The Wiesenthal Center, which says the first extremist Web site was identified in 1995, isn't the only party concerned about social media's ability to fuel terrorism. Earlier this week, Sen. Joseph Lieberman made public a letter to Google CEO Eric Schmidt asking the company to remove Islamic extremist content from its YouTube video-sharing property.
And last year, the Google Earth mapping software came under some scrutiny when reports spread that it had been used in planning a foiled terrorist plot.