• By The Financial District

Facebook Targets German Far-Right Movement Pushing 'Social Harm'

Facebook says it has deleted almost 150 accounts, pages, and groups operated by individuals associated with Germany's Querdenken (Lateral Thinking) movement, a group of coronavirus skeptics, far-right activists, and anti-vaxxers, Christoph Dernbach reported for Deutsche Presse-Agentur (dpa).

Photo Insert: A Querdenken coronavirus demonstration in Berlin

It is the first targeted action directed against a group causing "coordinated social harm," Facebook head of security policy, Nathaniel Gleicher, told dpa.

"The people behind this activity used authentic and duplicate accounts to post and amplify violating content, primarily focused on promoting the conspiracy that the German government’s COVID-19 restrictions are part of a larger plan to strip citizens of their freedoms and basic rights," Gleicher said.

The accounts of Querdenken founder Michael Ballweg were also affected. The action is directed against group members on Facebook and Instagram. Gleicher said the individuals repeatedly violated Facebook's community standards against harmful health misinformation, incitement of violence, bullying, harassment, and hate speech.

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While the company is not banning all Querdenken content, it is "continuing to monitor the situation and will take action" if additional violations are identified.

Facebook has also identified a list of Querdenken websites that can no longer be linked to on the social platform. Gleicher explained that real users are usually involved in these coordinated social harm campaigns.

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"Coordinated social harm campaigns typically involve networks of primarily authentic users who organize to systematically violate our policies to cause harm on or off our platform," he said. At the end of May, the video platform Youtube had already deleted the Querdenken 711 channel.


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