German neo-Nazis are looking increasingly to social networking sites such as Facebook and YouTube to propagate racial hatred and recruit new members, an official study released Thursday indicated.
The Federal Agency for Political Studies said around 6,000 far-right posts had been found on social networks in Germany last year, about three times as many as in 2009.
Agency chief Thomas Krueger told reporters as he presented the findings that the use of such websites by right-wing extremists had "escalated dramatically".
"We must not give ground to the far right and their hate propaganda," he said.
Krueger said the sites themselves must clean house and do a more thorough job of enforcing their own rules of conduct with the help of other users who alert them when offensive videos and slogans appear.
"We need users who defend our fundamental values and fight off neo-Nazis," he said.
Stefan Glaser, the head of the division studying the far right at jugendschutz.net, a group seeking to crack down on the problem on the Internet, said neo-Nazis often tried to mask their racist content with coded messages.
He cited a recent video showing men in white masks carrying flaming torches through the deserted streets of a town at night, which he said was a warning of a purported "death of the German people" due to immigration.
The Office for the Protection of the Constitution, the main domestic intelligence service, said in a report this month that the number of right-wing extremists in Germany had fallen by 1,600 last year to some 25,000 nationwide.
But those judged potentially violent rose by 600 to 5,600.