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April 23, 2013 2

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.

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