Facebook says it targeted a network pushing a ‘conspiracy’ that the German government’s COVID-19 restrictions are part of bigger plan to take away rights

News & Politics

Facebook has targeted a network of accounts, pages, and groups run by people connected with the Querdenken movement in Germany who sought to disseminate “violating content” that mainly focused on pushing the “conspiracy” that coronavirus restrictions from Germany’s government are part of a bigger scheme to take away citizens’ liberties, according to Facebook’s head of security policy Nathaniel Gleicher.

He noted that the social media giant is taking the action because of the network’s efforts to breach the company’s Community Standards, including the posting of incitement to violence and more.

“We removed a network of Facebook and Instagram accounts, Pages and Groups for engaging in coordinated efforts to repeatedly violate our Community Standards, including posting harmful health misinformation, hate speech and incitement to violence. We also blocked their domains from being shared on our platform. This network was operated by individuals associated with the Querdenken movement in Germany, which is linked to off-platform violence and other social harms,” Gleicher wrote.

“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. This activity appeared to run across multiple internet services and the broader internet and typically portrayed violence as the way to overturn the pandemic-related government measures limiting personal freedoms. Based on public reporting, this group engaged in physical violence against journalists, police and medical practitioners in Germany,” he wrote.

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Gleicher noted that the company is not barring all Querdenken material from its platforms.

“This network consistently violated our Community Standards against harmful health misinformation, incitement of violence, bullying, harassment and hate speech, and we repeatedly took action against their violating posts. While we aren’t banning all Querdenken content, we’re continuing to monitor the situation and will take action if we find additional violations to prevent abuse on our platform and protect people using our services,” the post said.

“This is our first action under a new protocol focused on networks that are (1) tightly coordinated; (2) repeatedly violating our policies & evading enforcement; and (3) contributing to severe social harms (like calls for violence or to discredit medical science),” Gleicher noted in a tweet.

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