Hate App Targets Towson University » ADL Blogs
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April 23, 2013

Hate App Targets Towson University

Update 8/2/13: A new White Student Union has formed at Georgia State University by freshman Patrick Sharp.

The increasing exploitation of easy-to-use software to create smartphone apps by hate groups signals a move into a new realm of digital propaganda.

Some hate groups, like the neo-confederate League of the South, have produced apps intended for a general audience. Others, however, are developing apps with specific propaganda targets in mind. For example, the Towson White Student Union, founded by white supremacist Matthew Heimbach, a student at Towson University in Maryland, has created an app specifically targeting students at the school.

Like the League of the South’s app, the Towson White Student Union (Towson WSU) app is visually crude and technically rudimentary, primarily offering a collection of links. In the case of the Towson WSU app, the links lead to blogs, a group Facebook page, a Twitter account for the group’s organizer, a Google search results page, and a YouTube channel for the group.

These Android apps are not available through the authorized Google Play website. However, as Android apps do not need to be certified for installation (unlike iPad/iPod/iPhone apps), they are readily available through unofficial apps distribution websites.

Years ago, technological advances made it easy for hate groups to create websites without actually having sophisticated computer knowledge or skills. As the prevalence of wireless devices increases and easy-to-use app creation software proliferates, the presence of this sort of smartphone and tablet app will undoubtedly increase.