Foreign PolicyForeign Policy

How White Supremacist Terrorists Use Social Media to Spread Hate

By Daniel Byman

23 Mar 2022 · 10 min read

Three years ago, on March 15, Brenton Tarrant inaugurated a new era of mass terrorism when he livestreamed his mass shootings at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, where he killed 51 worshippers. The attack was the bloodiest white supremacist attack since 2011, when Anders Breivik killed 77 people, bombing a government complex in Oslo (killing eight) and then proceeding to an iconic summer camp for young progressives at Utoya, where he murdered 69 people.

Tarrant proved a harbinger of things to come and, as with Breivik, entered the white supremacist pantheon. A month after his attack, a 19-year-old man yelling antisemitic slurs shot worshippers at the Chabad of Poway synagogue in California, killing one person and wounding several others. Inspired by Tarrant, he also left behind a manifesto and tried to livestream his attack, but his camera malfunctioned.

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