Hate groups are on the rise in the United States, with the number of hate-focused organizations growing in 2015 for the first time in three years. This groundswell of vitriol took place in several sectors of the hate-o-sphere, but one of the largest expansions occurred among white supremacist groups — namely, the Ku Klux Klan.
As researchers at the Southern Poverty Law Center pointed out, however, the fact that so many of these groups are spewing their dark message on the internet makes their scope and influence increasingly difficult to track. For example, Dylann Roof, the Confederate-flag waving man who confessed to murdering 9 African American churchgoers in cold blood last year, was largely radicalized simply by visiting the websites of hate groups — not by joining them or attending their meetings. Roof reportedly found the website that inspired him — the home page of the white supremacist group Council of Conservative Citizens — simply by googling “black on White crime.”
To help assess the growth of this digital hate, ThinkProgress checked Google trends to see how often people searched for terms and phrases commonly used by White Supremacists over the past few years. In almost every instance, use of the terms grew the most in the United States, and all of them increased in frequency since 2008. While this kind of data can’t in and of itself account for an uptick in racist hatred across America, it does showcase how common such phrases are becoming — and the potential for radicalization.