Cyber racism

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"Cyber racism" is a term coined by Les Back in 2002[1] to capture the phenomenon of racism online, particularly on white supremacist web sites. The term encompasses racist rhetoric that is distributed through computer-mediated means and includes some or all of the following characteristics: Ideas of racial uniqueness, nationalism and common destiny; racial supremacy, superiority and separation; conceptions of racial otherness; and anti-establishment world-view.

Racist views are common and often more extreme on the Internet due to a level of anonymity offered by the Internet.[2][3] In a 2009 book about "common misconceptions about white supremacy online, [its] threats to today's youth; and possible solutions on navigating through the Internet, a large space where so much information is easily accessible (including hate-speech and other offensive content)", City University of New York associate professor Jessie Daniels claimed that the number of white supremacy sites online was then rising; especially in the United States after the 2008 presidential elections.[4]

According to the Australian Human Rights Commission, Cyber-Racism involves online activity that can include "jokes or comments that cause offence or hurt; name-calling or verbal abuse; harassment or intimidation, or public commentary that inflames hostility towards certain groups".[5] Racism online can have the same effects as offensive remarks not online.[6]



In Australia, cyber-racism is unlawful under S 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth). As it involves a misuse of telecommunications equipment, it may also be criminal under S 474.17 of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth).[7] State laws in each Australian State make racial vilification unlawful, and in most states serious racial vilification is a criminal offense. These laws also generally apply to cyber-racism, for example S 7 "Racial vilification unlawful" and S 24 "Offence of serious racial vilification" of the Racial and Religious Tolerance Act 2001 (Vic) both explicitly state that the conduct being referred to may include the use of the Internet.[8]

Yahoo! case[edit]

In May 2000, the League Against Racism and Anti-Semitism (la Ligue Internationale Contre le Racisme et I'Antisemitisme-LICRA) and the Union of French Jewish Students (UEJF) brought an action against Yahoo! Inc. who hosted an auction website to sell items of Nazi Paraphernalia and Yahoo! France provided the link accessed to the content.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Back, L. (2002). Aryans Reading Adorno: Cyber-culture and Twenty-first Century Racism, Ethnic and Racial Studies. 25(4), 628–51.
  2. ^ Manfred, Tony (24 May 2012). "Why Is The Internet So Racist?". Business Insider. Retrieved 2 July 2013.
  3. ^ Younge, Gary (12 July 2012). "Who thinks about the consequences of online racism?". The Guardian. Retrieved 2 July 2013.
  4. ^ "Cyber Racism: Race and Technology". 2013. Retrieved 16 April 2014.
  5. ^ "What is Cyber-Racism". Australian Human Rights Commission. 2014. Archived from the original on 14 July 2014. Retrieved 7 June 2014.
  6. ^ "Racism. No Way: Cyber Racism". NSW Government, Education and Communities. 2013. Retrieved 16 April 2014.
  7. ^ "OHPI Submission on Racial Discrimination and S 18C". Online Hate Prevention Institute. 2014. Retrieved 7 June 2014.
  8. ^ "Racial and Religious Tolerance Act 2001 (Vic) Sect 24". AUSTLII. 2013. Retrieved 7 June 2014.
  9. ^ "France bans internet Nazi auctions". BBC News. 2000. Retrieved 8 May 2014.

Further reading[edit]