Neo-Nazis, anti-Semites and white nationalists once used (((echoes))) to highlight and target Jewish people for harassment and online attacks. They designed the “Coincidence Detector,” a Google chrome detector that highlighted people suspected of being Jewish. Now that’s all come crashing down thanks to hacktivists who found a way to use the neo-Nazis’ own programming code against them.
Earlier in June, Mic.com published an extensive story exposing the dark corners of web where these anti-semitic right-wing groups flourish. If you noticed social media accounts suddenly changing their names to include the (((echoes))) on their name they have done so over the last month in defiance and solidarity with those the groups targeted.
According to Fusion, creative coder Daniel Sieradsk has devised a way to use these same tools against the neo-Nazis. Sieradsk created the Nazi Detector, a Chrome extension that takes a database filled with Nazis and puts swastikas in front of and after their names as they appear online.
“I just whipped it together the other day when the idea popped into my head,” Sieradski told Fusion. “I asked a journalist I know who’d saved the archive of the original Coincidence Detector to send it to me, and then just hacked away at it for a few minutes.”
Using lists from organizations like the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League coupled with followers of major anti-semitic Twitter accounts, Sieradsk was able to populate a database of nearly 9,000 people. Surprisingly, however, they seem eager to “come out” as a Nazi. Though if a person is on the list and isn’t a Nazi he says he’s happy to remove them after reevaluating.
While the tactic has similar aims the intent is different. “The goal of the Coincidence Detector was to out Jews who were ‘hiding in plain sight,’ as its creators imagined it,” he explained. “No one is accusing these Nazis of hiding their online identities — though obviously, they’re hiding their real identities because they’re cowards who don’t have the courage of their convictions.”
You can download the Nazi Detector in the Google Chrome extension lab.