AP News Goes Inside Facebook’s Crackdown in Germany Before Election

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg arrives at the European Parliament, prior to his audition on the data privacy scandal on May 22, 2018 at the European Union headquarters in Brussels. (Photo by JOHN THYS / AFP) (Photo credit should read JOHN THYS/AFP/Getty Images)
JOHN THYS/AFP/Getty Images

A recent report by AP News outlines Facebook’s massive crackdown ahead of the German federal elections to prevent the spread of what the Masters of the Universe consider misinformation related to the coronavirus. One analysis found that many users banned for attempting to rebut posts labeled as “misinformation.”

AP News reports that ahead of Germany’s federal elections, Facebook took a huge step to crack down on what it considers misinformation on the platform, removing accounts spreading falsehoods related to the coronavirus and any that might encourage violent protests related to lockdown restrictions.

LEIPZIG, GERMANY – NOVEMBER 21: People gather to protest against coronavirus lockdown measures during the second wave of the pandemic on November 21, 2020 in Leipzig, Germany. The demonstration, which includes a range of protesters including neo-Nazis, hooligans, conspiracy theory activists and ordinary citizens, comes on the heels of a similar protest in Leipzig on November 7 organized by the Querdenken movement that drew up to 30,000 people, spun out of control and led to violent confrontations with police. Germany is currently in a four-week semi-lockdown that will likely be extended into December as authorities seek to rein in high daily rates of infection. (Photo by Stringer/Getty Images)

Mark Zuckerberg Lectures America via Video Call (Pool/Getty)

On September 16, Facebook announced that it was introducing a new “coordinated social harm” policy that it hoped would shut down disinformation campaigns on the platform ahead of the German election. However, these campaigns were not run by foreign states attempting to destabilize the elections, but rather normal Facebook users that it believes were bypassing the platform’s rules relating to “misinformation” and “hate speech.”

150 German accounts, pages, and groups linked to the Querdenken movement, a loose group that has protested lockdown measures and vaccine mandates in Germany, were targeted by Facebook in the crackdown. Mark Zuckerberg’s company called the move “innovative” while many viewed the crackdown as censorship.

Researchers at the UK-based nonprofit group Reset, which has criticized social media’s effect on democratic discourse, commented: “This action appears rather to be motivated by Facebook’s desire to demonstrate action to policymakers in the days before an election, not a comprehensive effort to serve the public.”

The Associated Press reviewed examples of some of the Querdenken content that Facebook removed. Facebook provided four posts that the AP claims are quite similar to content still currently allowed on Facebook. The posts included statements that vaccines create new viral variants and another wishing death upon police officers breaking up coronavirus lockdown restriction protests.

Analysis by Reset found that many of the comments that Facebook removed were actually users attempting to argue with and rebut Querdenken arguments. Facebook defended the removal of accounts and comments stating that it never planned to place a total ban on Querdenken but felt the need to take action against users who were violating the site’s rules and spreading “harmful content.”

David Agranovich, Facebook’s director of global threat disruption, told the AP: “This is a start. This is us extending our network disruptions model to address new and emerging threats.” Cliff Lampe, a professor of information at the University of Michigan who studies social media, commented on Facebook’s approach stating: “In the past they’ve tried to squash cockroaches, but there are always more. You can spend all day stomping your feet and you won’t get anywhere. Going after networks is a smart try.”

Read more at the Associated Press here.

Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship. Follow him on Twitter @LucasNolan or contact via secure email at the address lucasnolan@protonmail.com

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