TTP + ADL Report: Online Platforms Aid in Hate Group Fundraising
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Nov 30, 2023
Contact: Michael Clauw, email@example.com, 202.780.5750
WASHINGTON, D.C. – A new study by the Tech Transparency Project (TTP) and the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) details how antisemitic and white supremacist groups and their supporters use Facebook Pages, YouTube channels, and X accounts to funnel people to off-platform websites that solicit donations, sell memberships, or market hate-related merchandise. In many cases, this fundraising for hate groups is happening in plain sight, and in clear violation of platform policies—suggesting improvements in enforcement may be key to shutting down these revenue streams.
The study—initially conducted in Summer 2023 with a follow-up in October—began with a list of 130 terms from the ADL’s Glossary of Extremism, which researchers then used to identify 55 hate group-associated websites that raise funds through some combination of donations, membership fees, and merchandise sales. Researchers then plugged these website addresses into the search bars of Facebook, Instagram, X, and YouTube, and examined the results to look for accounts promoting these sites.
On Meta platforms, researchers found instances of hate groups or their supporters aiming to raise money—in some cases utilizing Facebook’s own product features. In one example, the Facebook Page for Odinic Rite—an organization dedicated to the advancement of a racist religious sect embraced by white supremacists—frequently hawked shirts and mugs emblazoned with the group’s logo and featured a “Shop Now” button. While Facebook does not appear to specifically restrict who can use Shop Now and other commerce-related product features, its Community Standards ban “content that praises, substantively supports or represents ideologies that promote hate, such as nazism [sic] and white supremacy.”
On YouTube, researchers found links to hate group fundraising posted in the “about” sections of channels, in the channels’ banner photo, and in the description sections for individual videos. In one example, researchers identified a YouTube channel called American Freedom Party—the name of the white supremacist group—which had a “Donate To The Party!” link in its about section, which led to a now-defunct contribution page through payment processor Square. Researchers identified numerous videos on the channel promoting antisemitic and white supremacist ideologies that violated YouTube’s hate speech policy.
On X, researchers similarly found users posting links to websites that raised money for hate groups—though the accounts did not use any special platform features like shop or donate buttons, as was the case on YouTube and Facebook. Like the posts on other platforms, many of the X posts violated platform policies, including X’s ban on “hateful entities” and “individuals who affiliate with and promote their illicit activities.” Even so, some of these accounts had a blue checkmark, indicating they paid a monthly fee for X Premium and receive perks including an algorithmic boost for their replies.
CfA Executive Director Michelle Kuppersmith said, “Unfortunately, many mainstream platforms have become one-stop-shops for hate groups hoping to spread their ideas and squeeze money out of their supporters. Even when using rich features and verified accounts, these extremists still manage to flout platform policies—showing that current enforcement efforts are severely lacking.”
Lauren Krapf, Director of Policy and Impact for the ADL Center for Tech and Society said, “The fact that social media companies’ own product features are aiding the fundraising efforts of antisemitic and white supremacist groups is not only concerning, but something that these companies need to address. This underscores the urgent need for increased scrutiny and accountability of platforms to curb the financial lifelines supporting dangerous movements.”
Campaign for Accountability is a nonpartisan, nonprofit watchdog organization that uses research, litigation, and aggressive communications to expose misconduct and malfeasance in public life and hold those who act at the expense of the public good accountable for their actions.
ADL is the leading anti-hate organization in the world. Founded in 1913, its timeless mission is “to stop the defamation of the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment to all.” Today, ADL continues to fight all forms of antisemitism and bias, using innovation and partnerships to drive impact. A global leader in combating antisemitism, countering extremism and battling bigotry wherever and whenever it happens, ADL works to protect democracy and ensure a just and inclusive society for all. More at www.adl.org.