Tribeca 2024 Review: Hacking Hate

Simon Klose’s Hacking Hate is a compelling documentary that is more chilling than any horror movie as it explores online hate and those who benefit from it through the work of award-winning Swedish journalist My Vingren, who writes for Swedish magazine Expo, which was co-founded in 1995 by Stieg Larsson, the editor-in-chief until his death in 2004.

Buy Troll Hunting: Inside the World of Online Hate and its Human Fallout book

In 2017, Vingren investigated the Nordic Resistance Movement, a Nazi movement, which resulted in the authorities suggesting she not live at home or use public transport “because there were concrete plans to kill [her].” After having won the Prix Europa for Best European Radio Investigation of 2018 for “The Bombings, The Security Service, and the Nazis” for Swedish Radio, her next assignment for Expo sees her investigating far-right influencers and social media platforms.

She creates fake profiles for a family of three using her face and different software to alter it. She starts subscribing and mimics what a person who follows those influencers would say but refuses to add to the racism online. One account gets added to a Scandinavian neo-Nazi group, which has videos suggesting how to best kill black people and are filled with hate towards LGBTQ.

Vingren discovers a man named Vincent who is creating a lot of nefarious accounts. Through her online investigation, she discovers his identity and whereabouts in Norway, in part from info he and others post to social media. After police speak to him, he moves away and deletes his social media accounts. He then pops up after reviewing a sushi restaurant in Russia. She wonders if Vincent is really a Nazi who believes in the cause or just being paid to pose as one.

In addition, Vingren is curious how platforms allow hate speech to fester. She speaks separately with free-speech lawyer Anika Collier Navaroli, who worked on Twitter’s Safety Policy Team and was involved in banning President Donald Trump’s account; Sara Ovreby, Google’s Head of Public Policy and Government Relation in Sweden, who claims they don’t make money from extreme content; and Imran Ahmed, founding CEO of Center for Countering Digital Hate; whose organization was sued by Elon Musk for driving away advertisers from Twitter, which cost the company $10 million, because they were able to show hate speech increased.

Klose, editor Nicolas Norgaard Staffolani, and composer Kaye Havnevik take what sounds like dry material, video of Vingren scrolling through websites, and make her investigation captivating. Winner of the Tribeca Film Festival’s Best Documentary Feature Award, Hacking Hate is a must-see film to better understand what is happening online. It should especially be viewed by those with the ability to regulate the internet, either those who work at the platforms or those in government.

Gordon S. Miller

Publisher/Editor-in-Chief of this site. "I'm making this up as I go" - Indiana Jones

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