A Facebook page promoting a new Australian based Neo-Nazi group, Battalion88 (page id: 452209554976265), was created two weeks ago an experiencing rapid growth. While claiming to be Australian, the page sought to transport American white supremacy to Australia and there were significant doubts about ti being locally run. Over the weekend OHPI documented, analysed, reported, and ultimately had this page removed and the associated account suspended by Facebook. As part of our effort in transparency and in raising awareness of harmful online content, the briefing documents some of the pages content.
We thank Facebook for their action removing this page and urge those who see online hate to keep reporting it both to the platform concerned and to our FightAgainstHate.com tool. This allows us to monitor the reported content and track the responses by social media platforms. This provides public transparency as outlined in our recent report “Measuring the Hate: The State of Antisemitism in Social Media“. This is particular important as the problem of online hate continues to rise rapidly, as we discussed with the BBC in December.
Background on Battalion88
On February 29th 2016 a Facebook page was created for a new Australian based Neo-Nazi group. The group was called Battalion88 (page id: 452209554976265). While its support numbers were low, they were growing rapidly. The page claimed to be Australian, but a number of posts gave a strong impression the page was not run locally, and instead was run by an American seeking to transport American white supremacy into Australia.
The group claims to have coordinators in New Zealand and the United States. Up until March 7 (before the major growth spike) new membership included 40 people from the Northern Territory and 35 from South Australia. The head of the group goes by the name SPK, but it seems doubtful that they are Australian. They are either a recent immigrant to Australia from the United States, or they are physically based in the United States and trying to create this Australian Nazi group from afar.
The first post that leads us to believe they are not Australia is a post from March 7 where they shared some of the page statistics. Within Australia the Northern Territory is just the Northern Territory, not “the Northern Territory of Australia”. Referring to South Australia as “Southern Australia” is a mistake that a local just wouldn’t make.
Then there is their post about Donald Trump where they write “the Enemy is scared that we are winning”, clearly aligning themselves as part of the Trump camp. Australians may have an opinion on the US primaries, but we aren’t part of the electorate. SPK’s buy-in seems to be that of a local.
The page promotes classic anti-Jewish conspiracy theories. The most famous of these is the forgery which is the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. This anti-Jewish propaganda was used to stir up pogroms in Russia, and was later used by the Nazis to indoctrinate children and spread hate against Jews. SPK references the Protocols in a post that claims “Our nation is now completely under the control of the International Invisible government of World Jewry”. He goes on speak about former Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr’s claims of Jewish influence on Government. Interestingly SPK refers to “that nation” and “his nation’s” policy as distinct from the “our nation” he was referring to previously. Another sign that SPK is not Australian.
If we had any doubts about the page’s white supremacist agenda, here is a post promoting a book by David Duke, former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, antisemitic conspiracy theorist, and Holocaust denier.
Another post promotes the work of David Eden Lane, a leading modern white supremacist, a founding member of The Order (a US based white supremacist revolutionary terrorist organization), and the creator of the “14 words” the best-known slogan of the U.S. white supremacist movement.
Lane was also a convicted felon sentenced to 190 years in prison for racketeering, conspiracy, and for civil rights violations. This post promotes his “88 PRECEPTS”. The number 88, found in both the precepts and Battalion88’s name is a reference to the 8th letter of the alphabet, H. In this case HH which is short for Heil Hitler.
The 14 words are “We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children”, however, Lane also created an alternative 14 word slogan, “Because the beauty of the White Aryan woman must not perish from the earth”. This slogan has also been promoted by SPK on the page, along with vilification calling Jews parasites and claiming Jews are the source of: pornography, feminism, abortion and television based race-mixing propaganda.
Our reports (through Facebook’s reporting system) initially received the following response from Facebook saying it didn’t violate their community standards:
This is Facebook’s standard initial response, but that decision is often then reviewed. In this case, the report was reviewed and around 24 hours later we were notified that the page was close and the account behind it deleted.
We don’t know why an American Nazi would be seeking to stir up the far right in Australia, but we do know this is not something we as Australians appreciate. We’re pleased to see Facebook taking action to remove such a page whose sole purpose was to promote racism.
OHPI plays an important role in combating hate like this in social media. Unfortunately, despite the world leading work we do, raising donations so we can remain active has been a constant battle, and right now it is a battle we are losing. This has led to a significant reduction in our capacity. If you value the work we do, please donate to OHPI so this important work can continue. Australian donations are tax deductible.
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