Most of us are well-aware of the internet racism that occurs on Twitter, Facebook, and in the comment section of news articles. However, what many people are unaware of is that there is a seemingly undetected form of internet racism that is extremely insidious, and the lengths they pursue to conceal a hidden agenda is quite elaborate.
Internet research via search engine (i.e. “Googling”) is a preferred method of research and general knowledge gaining by children and adults. It allows knowledge to be at our fingertips, and since the introduction of smartphones, we simply need to type a keyword and receive countless articles related to our topic. This is why cloaked websites are cause for concern, not just for every parent (although, my first thought was for my children when I heard about this), but also any person who uses the internet.
What is a cloaked website?
A cloaked websites is a site that tries to trick search engines into receiving a higher ranking by altering the content so it looks different to a search engine bot than what a human would see. It sounds innocuous enough, until you find out that many cloaked websites are being used by groups to hide ideological agendas.
Who is doing it?
When searching for Martin Luther King Jr. or Civil Rights Movement information, there are numerous cloaked sites that are hidden in the results pages. The creators of the majority of the sites have been linked back to neo-Nazi organizations.
Why are they doing it?
Some experts have suggested that white supremacy groups are using cloaked sites for recruiting. The general consensus is that these groups are specifically targeting children and teens who may be exploring the labyrinth of the site and find themselves in a forum or other area where seemingly well-intentioned people strike up a conversation with them, but are ultimately grooming these children for their organization.
My main concern is less with recruitment, but more about how people will go out of their way to falsify information on the internet (and do it well). It should make us all question if there is any reliability in the information we gather through internet searches.
The video below sums up why we need to start changing our view of the internet as a colorblind source of information. We should teach our children to look out for cloaked sites when browsing the internet or when working on homework.