Neo Nazis and other closely associated extremists surge to Google Plus with some ‘plus’ communities having hundreds or thousands of followers in their circles.

At least somebody’s still using it?

News has emerged this week, that following a severe crackdown by mainstream social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter,  Neo-Nazis and other extremist groups have found a new home in Google’s own social media attempt to rival to Facebook, Google Plus.

The move follows in the wake of last year’s purge and exodus on extremist content and groups that posted and shared hate speech, and racist rhetoric, in the aftermath of the Chalottesville protests in Virginia, USA. At the ‘Unite the Right’ rally, a protester was killed by a car driven into a crowd by a right-wing supporter.

The same level of scrutiny wasn’t levelled at Google Plus however. According to the UK Independent newspaper’s coverage of the story, “Google acknowledged the issue by saying it had “more to do” in order to properly address it and had put dedicated teams in place to do so…

White Nationalists at Charlotesville, last year.

The news was first uncovered by The Hill, who noted that these Google Plus communities had thousands of followers in some cases. While some did appear to have been abandoned or not posted to in a significant space of time, they still have web links that connect to active sites.

According to The Hill, despite Google Plus’s policy and statement on the matter, racist, anti-semitic, and homophobic content has, in some cases, remained on the site for years. Worryingly, much of the content is still searchable and reachable through Google search.

Of course, it’s easy to see why perhaps Google Plus has been seen as attractive by the above groups. Google have all but abandoned Plus as a going social media concern, as has most of the web-connected world.

Google Plus? Haven’t I heard about that somewhere before?

Google Plus was launched back in 2011 as part of Google’s own attempt to take some of Facebook’s rapidly expanding social media empire. While technically brilliant and well-designed, it never really took off. On their own, the figures can still look somewhat impressive.

On average, Google Plus still receives around 27 million views a month. However, even with those millions of visitors, it still ranks outside the top ten social media sites, with Yelp, Quora, Tumblr and Linkedin still way out in front. For reference, Yelp has less than 1% of the social media market.

The real problem with extremist content on Google Plus is something of a microcosm of the issues faced by the likes of Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, in that they all rely on community driven reporting to police their sites.

“We have clear policies against violent content as well as content from known terrorist organisations and when we find violations, we take swift action,” said a spokesperson for Google. “We have a team dedicated to keeping violent content and hate speech off our platforms, including Google+. And while we recognise we have more to do, we’re committed to getting this right.”