A number of Facebook pages apparently created by Danes, which express radical Islamist sentiments, have been labelled as fake, with new research concluding that the pages were in fact produced by far-right extremists aiming to portray Muslims in a bad light.
Littered with threats such as “Denmark, we are here to take over” and “Just wait, Denmark will soon become a Muslim country”, the pages have caused social media uproar.
However, graduate students Johan Dam Farkas and Jannick Schou from the IT University of Copenhagen were the first to discover that things were not quite as they seem.
The students have been working on a research project that examines how radical groups operate on social media. The project, among other things, investigates two Facebook pages – ‘Islam – Religion of Peace’ and ‘Peaceful Muslims’ – which express themselves as overtly Islamist. However, further research concludes that these Facebook pages are in all likelihood fake.
The pages are flush with radical Islamist sentiment.
“When I walk through the streets of Copenhagen after Friday prayers, I laugh with my Muslim brothers as we look at the homeless,” writes the ‘Islam – Religion of Peace’ Facebook page.
“I laugh while we get cash and fuck Danish prostitutes. Allahu Akbar!”
DR News Database Editors has also investigated the fake pages, confirming them to be fabricated by ethnic Danes.
“What we are seeing here is far-right extremists pretending to be Islamists. They try to build up a kind of straw-man argument with their opponents so that they can shoot it down again,” Farkas told DR.
A growing phenomenon
The far-left research group Redox, which is responsible for monitoring far-right activities, told DR News it was aware of the fake profiles.
“In the past six months, we have seen a handful of these cases,” Redox journalist Andreas Rasmussen told DR.
“They make fake profiles, which at first glance seem to have been created by Islamist groups, and spread violent and hateful messages,” he explained.
According to Rasmussen, the purpose of these profiles is to portray Muslims in a bad light.
“Their aim is to create a further division between ‘Muslims’ and ‘Danes’ and to make ordinary Danes believe there are Muslim conspiracies aimed at taking over Denmark, thus adding fuel to the fire of an otherwise suppressed xenophobia.”
Spot the fake
Farkas and Schou acknowledge that fake Facebook pages are a growing trend.
“It has become much easier to create a fake Facebook page. Therefore, it is easy to spread violent messages across social media to a very wide audience,” Farkas told DR.
The graduate students assert there are several factors that indicate a false Facebook page: including frequently changing the Facebook name, the use of copy-cat graphics and a highly regulated comments section.
The two graduate students will disclose the rest of their research later this year.