A big part of the problem when it comes to hate groups in general but especially online is that they’ve weaponized the typical mindset and response to issues like this very effectively. For a long time now, there has been a pervasive mentality that “sunlight is the best disinfectant” or some other equally cheerful platitude about the curative property of exposure. Once the awful sees that it isn’t welcome, it will scamper off defeated.
This is wrong on a couple of levels. There might have been a time in the past where this was at least somewhat effective because public shaming might have caused someone to shut their mouth and retreat. Their mind was not changed, but they were silent about it for fear of repercussion. It wasn’t really a solution as much as it was a temporary reprieve from hearing about it.
The other, more recent problem is that finding a group of like minded people to bolster you is now a trifle. Name some obscure hill to die on, and you will find a willing army to join. This has effectively neutered the original strategy in its entirety. People assume that having found a wealth of allies for their terrible cause makes it somehow less terrible. The pressure system in place to keep these viewpoints to oneself can’t compete with the endless reinforcement and feedback loop of a peer group telling you that no, you are the mistreated hero in this story.
Add on top of this the effective leveraging of internet and American idealism and things get worse. A lot of the early internet was built on the original beautiful lie of a connected world where things like gender and race did not matter. You could connect with anyone with ease and what did it matter who the person behind the faceless text was, you could accept them easily and without hesitation. This was a delusion dreamt up by the primarily well off white people who had internet access. It’s hard to imagine something easily being used as a tool of oppression when no one has put the boot down on your throat. For that exact same reason it was both so obvious yet so hard to predict that the white majority would pick up the tactics of actually persecuted minorities and run with it.
How do we make things better? Man, fuck if I know. Every practical solution has consequences and drawbacks, and to my cynical eyes everything else sounds like fantasy. Cracking down hard on online communities, strictly moderating them, enforcing rigid civility standards, these are all well and good for making a specific community a good place. At the same time, what that also does is relocate all of the poison elsewhere to mingle with itself in whatever cistern of anger is more than happy to have them.
Sorry, that wasn’t a particularly helpful or well thought out little rant, sometimes you just need to purge something.