Meet the Ex-Neo-Nazi Using Tech to Deradicalize the Far Right
Brad Galloway employed the internet to find new recruits for neo-Nazi hate groups. Now he uses it to help them leave.
Brad Galloway opens up his phone and scans through his most recent Facebook messages.
“I’ve been in the white power movement for five years and I want out,” one reads. “I hate who I’ve become.”
“Really struggling with the loneliness today,” another says. “I don’t have a single buddy left after leaving the group.”
Galloway carefully replies to each one. He advises the guy desperate to leave that he should make steps to reconnect with old friends from his days before joining the far right. He talks the second through positive things he could fill his time with, such as sports or going back to school.
Galloway can relate. With his brown hair, beard, and unassuming button-down shirts, today the 39-year-old father of three blends in easily on the streets of Vancouver, Canada. But less than a decade ago, he sported the unmistakable uniform of a street skinhead — black bomber jacket, boots, and a shaved head. Galloway spent almost 15 years in Canada’s neo-Nazi movement before breaking away in 2011. But now he’s part of an online network working to deradicalize other far-right extremists. Some he exchanges just a few conversations with. Others he continues to mentor for years.
“Online has made [the far right] much more widespread and created a transnational movement,” says Galloway, who has been working in the deradicalization field since 2015. “The group I was in started in the U.S. and ended up in 12 different countries, all because of the internet.” But he also thinks that digital tools offer better opportunities to counteract the very extremism it has helped to grow. “[The internet] can be a positive resource for disengaging from it all. There was absolutely nothing back when I left.”
Galloway was recruited in the mostly off-line world of the late 1990s, when he was 19 years old. “I met up with a friend who was…