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Germany plans to ban Telegram app, accused of facilitating hate speech

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Germany plans to ban Telegram app, accused of facilitating hate speech

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Germany is considering banning Telegram, an encrypted messaging app, after accusing it of facilitating hate speech and conspiracy theories. The app has repeatedly ignored calls to ban anti-vaccine groups and other related content.

The Telegram debate comes apt as Germany’s parliament meets to discuss whether Covid vaccines should become mandatory. In recent weeks, violent protests have erupted across the country.

Some officials have even received death threats for siding with the government. In December 2021, a German Telegram group shared death threats directed at the governor of the state of Saxony, leading to police raids.

One of the channels used to mobilize anti-vaccine protesters is Telegram.

The encrypted messaging platform has gained popularity in Germany over the past few years. Between 2018 and 2021, the share of users who regularly send messages on Telegram increased from 7% to 15%, according to a survey by German data analysis company Statista.

A message seen by 25,000 people had called on those opposed to the Covid restrictions to share the private addresses of German ‘local MPs, politicians and other personalities’ who they said were ‘seeking to destroy them’ through curbs pandemic.

Germany’s tough stance on hate speech

With this in mind, politicians have set their sights on stricter controls on Telegram. They want to demand that the app delete messages containing death threats or hate speech and identify their authors.

Nancy Faeser, Germany’s interior minister, said if Telegram doesn’t comply with the new rules, the government could fine or even ban Telegram altogether, making Germany the first Western country to ban telegram. application.

This is not the first time that Germany has tried to combat hate speech. In 2017, Germany passed a controversial law that required social media giants to remove illegal content and report it to the police.

The country has some of the strictest free speech laws in the world, largely due to its Nazi past and recognizing that the rise of National Socialism has been fueled by propaganda and fake news. Today, incitement to hatred and violence can land you in prison in Germany.

A hands-off approach

But unlike all other social media giants, Telegram has repeatedly refused to cooperate with authorities. The company was founded in 2013 by Russian entrepreneurs Pavel and Nikolai Durov on the premise that users could communicate beyond the reach of governments.

Since then, Telegram has provided refuge for dissidents from Russia to Iran, helping them organize their work and exchange information outside of government repression and control. Telegram is banned or heavily regulated in countries like China, India, and Belarus.

But this hands-off approach has also turned the messenger into a haven for conspiracy theorists and extremists — especially after many were banned from major social media platforms.

Germany plans to ban Telegram app, accused of facilitating hate speech

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