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[liberationtech] article on Czech neo-Nazis' use of US-based servers

Gwendolyn Albert gwendolyn.albert at
Fri Jun 21 18:10:50 PDT 2013

Czech Television: Social networking sites buzzing before neo-Nazi march in
Duchcov tomorrow
Prague, 21.6.2013 22:23, (ROMEA)
[image: On 29 May 2013 about 500 people demonstrated on the main square in
Duchcov (Teplice district), Czech Republic. The local gathering was
convened in response to an attack perpetrated by a group of Romani people
on a non-Romani married couple earlier that month. After the assembly was
over, some demonstrators headed for a Romani-occupied neighborhood. Police
blocked their way and the convener of the demonstration called on them to
disperse. (PHOTO: ČTK)]
On 29 May 2013 about 500 people demonstrated on the main square in Duchcov
(Teplice district), Czech Republic. The local gathering was convened in
response to an attack perpetrated by a group of Romani people on a
non-Romani married couple earlier that month. After the assembly was over,
some demonstrators headed for a Romani-occupied neighborhood. Police
blocked their way and the convener of the demonstration called on them to
disperse. (PHOTO: ČTK)
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 Czech Television reports that right-wing extremists using Facebook in the
Czech Republic have sprung to life over the past few days:  News has been
rapidly spreading about an alleged assault by Romani people at the Krásné
Březno housing estate in Ústí nad Labem on a 16-year-old youth. While the
case does exist, police are not issuing any information about it for the
time being.

Many people discussing the incident online believe they all the information
they need. They are using this case as an example of why there should be a
mass foray against Romani people.

The internet has become the main site of right-wing extremist propaganda,
and prior to tomorrow's march by neo-Nazis in Duchcov the social networking
sites are on alert. The case of the assaulted 16-year-old has also been
analyzed by news server (

In less than one day, photographs of the 16-year-old sitting in a
despondent posture with blood all over him and information about the
assault had been spread on Facebook and shared by more than 8 500 people.
During the following 24 hours, the number of people sharing the image rose
to 10 500.

Sharing of content in such numbers is rarely seen on the Czech internet.
For example, hockey star Jaromír Jágr, who has almost 200 000 friends on
Facebook and regularly succeeds in capturing public attention, only has
about 2 500 people maximum sharing his most-followed posts.

Most of the Czech content shares can be counted in the dozens or hundreds.
Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg, who as a candidate for the
Czech presidency became the "king" of social networks during the elections,
managed to get only 2 000 people sharing his most outstanding content.

The extent and speed with which such sentiments are being shared is a
problem for Mayor of Duchcov Jitka Bártová (unaffiliated). Her whole town
is preparing for the neo-Nazi march, which has been announced for tomorrow
(Saturday 22 June).

The community already experienced one such march three weeks ago. Even
though it took place relatively calmly, that was mainly thanks to the
preparations for it, including riot police on patrol and a specially
readied police team.

Information about the march in Duchcov and invitations to participate in it
spread rapidly online at first. They were supported by the already
widely-shared case of an assault on a non-Romani married couple by Romani
people and by rumors that twisted other such stories to the satisfaction of
ultra-right groups.

"While I had heard a lot about social networking sites, the force with
which the reports about the Duchcov case were spread surprised me," Mayor
Bártová told online news server ČT24. She is now spending her evenings and
nights in the discussion forums on her own profile and the forums on
unofficial websites about Duchcov, doing her best to explain the situation
and refute the rumors. "I have witnessed several times that a post can
still be spread after it has been erased," she said.

The social networking sites are introducing new phenomena which police must
also spend more and more time on. Aggressors whose only aim is to spread
defamatory or provocative content in order to prompt emotional responses
are also occupying a lot of online space.

Police jargon already has a term for such behavior, "trolling" (from
English, which calls those who disrupt online discussions "trolls"). "The
perpetrators are satisfied with initiating outrage. Anonymity plays a role
here, as does the fact that social networking sites make it more possible
to disseminate news because people usually get shared information from
someone they know," Karel Kuchařík, head of the Information Crimes Division
of the Czech Police Presidium told news server ČT24.

Declarations of the ultra-right variety are a felony in the Czech Republic
and those made on the internet may also be considered crimes. It is usually
a more demanding enterprise to lay eyes on the perpetrators, however.

"The vast majority of illegal neo-Nazi content is hosted on servers in the
USA and some other countries. Czech criminal prosecutors have a very
restricted field in which to work when catching these authors. The
authorities in those other countries do not provide them the data they
need," a staffer at the Czech Interior Ministry focused on extremism told
news server ČT24.

The Interior Ministry staffer also said the internet has become the primary
media outlet for right-wing extremist propaganda. It is the ideal place to
radicalize people and then recruit them. There are also concerns about the
self-radicalization of so-called "lone wolves" in particular.

"The internet is flooded with seditious neo-Nazi content in the Czech
language intended for the Czech public. These texts are often illegal.
Their aim is to mobilize the public in the name of racist and xenophobic
dogmas. An analysis of the cases of convicted neo-Nazis shows that it has
been texts on neo-Nazi websites that served to inspire them. They do their
best to emulate the stories they read there," the Interior Ministry staffer

Such texts may also be written in code. That was the case of former Czech
Senator Petr Pakosta (Civic Democrats - ODS), who wrote an article about
Romani people in which he stated that the cure for his discriminated
fellow-citizens was to "Rub and rub until they are completely rubbed

Following social networking sites has become an everyday reality for the
police, although given the amount of information, they mainly pay attention
at the instigation of the public and only go into deeper contexts and
identity verification when a specific case is being investigated. "The
police take this seriously, but usually they don't have the legal norms
behind them to be able to catch people. It may not even be possible to
create such laws, that would border on suppressing freedom of speech," says
Zdeněk Záliš, manager of external relations at the Safer Internet platform.

Virtual opinions, however, can cross over into the realm of reality very
easily. The most famous case is that of the boy from Břeclav, who was
allegedly assaulted for no reason by Romani people and lost a kidney in the
hospital following the alleged attack.  It wasn't until after
demonstrations had been held against Romani people, including verbal
attacks on them, that the police investigation revealed the boy had caused
his own fall down the staircase of the apartment building where he lives
and had invented the story of an attack by Romani people to cover up the
real cause of his very serious injuries.

The ease with which people can express themselves online and sign up for
events on social networking sites does not mean that a particular group of
people will actually turn out in such numbers in real time. Around 7 000
people signed up to participate in the demonstration in Duchcov that took
place three weeks ago. In the end, roughly 1 000 turned out.

Nevertheless, what remains essential is people's willingness to add their
voices to certain opinions. The completely or partially invented cases
mentioned above are sufficient examples of that.

In addition to intentional swindles that aim to incite hatred, another
motivation is just to spread a warning. What we call hoaxes today, or false
chain messages, are the continuation online of urban legends and stories.
These include the regularly resurfacing reports of razor blades hidden in
toboggans or infectious injection needles on bus seats. Those spreading
these stories rely on the notion that they are based in reality because
they came from a friend of a friend. However, no one is ever able to track
down who originated them.

Internet hoaxes are similar, but the story spreads significantly more
rapidly online and is much more real for many internet users because the
posts are spread beneath the photographs and names of their acquaintances
or friends. "When, moreover, the user shares something with his or her
friends, they themselves more or less want their friends to like what they
post and to get as much of a response to it as possible. That means
provocative, surprising communications often have a much easier time being
shared, as they are made to order for that purpose. Facebook itself works
on the same principle - the more activity a certain post sparks, the more
room it receives on the social networking site at the expense of other
posts," explains Vojtěch Bednář, editor-in-chief of the online industry
news server
 ČT24, translated by Gwendolyn Albert

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