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Far-right groups use Instagram to recruit youngsters, report claims

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An Instagram app logo   -   Copyright  Jenny Kane/AP
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Extreme far-right groups are using Instagram to recruit youngsters, according to a report by the campaign group Hope Not Hate (HNH).

It found that Instagram was a perfect platform to spread propaganda and described the social networking site as becoming a "hub for recruiting young people to extreme far-right groups."

"Instagram is emerging as the platform of choice for young Nazis to radicalise teenagers," the report said.

Far-right group The British Hand emerged and recruited most of its members via Instagram, according to the HNH dossier.

Another extremist group, The National Partisan Movement, used Instagram to build an international network of mostly teenage members, the report claimed.

While these groups also used other apps for their internal communication, Instagram was the primary platform of choice for their propaganda and recruitment process.

"They recruit on Instagram, they often create new accounts if they get banned, and on there they say very openly that they are recruiting and they bring people over to another chat app." Patrik Hermansson a researcher at HOPE not hate told Euronews.

In a statement to Euronews, Instagram's owners Facebook said: “We do not want hate on our platform and we removed a number of accounts belonging to The British Hand and National Partisan Movement before this report was published."

Why Instagram?

The report found that many of Instagram's features and resources made it a perfect platform to recruit youngsters to these far-right groups.

The report found that Instagram’s focus on visual media aligns well with the content produced by far-right groups, whose messaging usually consists of a few simple words combined with striking imagery.

There are dedicated features to “Explore” images and content, as well as "recommended" accounts to follow. This means if you interact with an account that Instagram's algorithms deem to be similar to far-right groups, it could recommend that the users follow them or explore their content.

"In internal chat messages of the National Partisan Movement, new members have claimed that they found the group via these recommendations," HNH said in the report.

Direct messages on Instagram make it easy to strike up a conversation with almost any user. The study found this to be the way The British Hand and the National Partisan Movement began their recruitment process. Direct messages on Instagram are largely unmoderated and can be extended to large groups of users.

"We’ve banned over 250 white supremacist organisations from Facebook and Instagram, and will continue removing content that praises, supports or represents these groups," a Facebook spokesperson said.

"Last year, we removed nearly 1 million pieces of content tied to hate organisations from Instagram and we’re always investing in technology to find and remove it faster.”