The role of hate groups and social media in mass shootings

In the wake of the recent mass shootings, a lot of focus has been on social media forums. Many are saying messages of hate have led to an increase in attacks. 

The El Paso Massacre suspect allegedly posted a manifesto in a chat room, professing his hatred for Mexican immigrants.

Immigrants, people of color, the Jewish community, and Muslims are often the targets of increased rhetoric and mass shootings in America.

Anti-Defamation League regional director Evan Bernstein says that the hate sites and chat rooms are geared towards alienated white men looking to fit in.

"The Klan and other white supremacists from the 60s and 70s may have met around a burning cross, but now they are meeting online, and they're meeting en masse around the country and the globe because anyone can go on the sites," he said.

The Southern Poverty Law Center has tracked white supremacist hate groups for decades. In 2018, it identified 1,020 across the United States. 

One hate site identified supposed anti-white traitors and provided their personal information and location.  They often praise lone gunmen.

"They get all kinds of accolades for it on these sites and get propped up for saying it, and they get propped up for saying they're going to do it and after these shootings, you see on the sites, people revering the shooters as heroes," said Bernstein.

Authorities say the majority of mass shootings have been mentioned in advance online. The challenge for law enforcement is that as soon as one site is shut down, another takes its place. 

Law enforcement analyst Darrin Porcher, Ph.D. says that we need to treat domestic terrorists as seriously as foreign ones. 

"The internal threat has now risen to a threshold that's really become a danger to our society. Therefore, it's obvious we have to retool our resources towards the domestic threat," he said.