Telegram Blocks 64 Channels
By Markus Balser, Berlin
After massive pressure from the federal government on Telegram, the company in Germany is taking action against hatred and hate speech online for the first time. According to information from the Süddeutsche Zeitung, Telegram has blocked a total of 64 channels in the past few days. According to security circles, this also includes that of the anti-Semite and conspiracy ideologist Attila Hildmann. The closure was due to pressure from the Federal Ministry of the Interior and the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA), it said. The BKA sent a corresponding extinguisher search to Telegram. A total of 64 have now been taken into account.
Further details of the contacts between Telegram and the federal government became known on Friday. According to the information, there was a second working-level meeting between the government and Telegram on Thursday. The government and the company wanted to “continue to be in close contact,” it said after the talks. Company founder Pavel Durov already promised this in the first meeting he took part in himself.
Interior Minister Nancy Faeser made it clear that she wants to take further action in the Telegram case. “On Telegram we are constantly experiencing new waves of hatred and threats against people and against our democracy,” she told SZ. “We act quickly and consistently against this.” She will continue to urge the company to meet its responsibilities and legal obligations, she said. “Telegram must no longer be an accelerator for right-wing extremists, conspiracy ideologues and other agitators. Death threats and other dangerous hate mail must be deleted and have clear criminal consequences.” The interior minister sees the deletion as a success of the weeks of pressure on Telegram. “The Federal Criminal Police Office has significantly intensified the investigations. From day one in office, I put pressure on me to get Telegram to cooperate. This pressure is working.”
The channels of conspiracy ideologist Attila Hildmann on Telegram have not been available in Germany since Tuesday. Users who try to access it get a notification that the channel cannot be viewed “because it violates local laws.” Hildmann, who had become known as a vegan chef, had sent corona conspiracy myths and hate speech to around 100,000 users via Telegram. Since February 2021, the 40-year-old has been wanted by the Berlin judiciary with an arrest warrant. He has since gone into hiding and may be in Turkey.
At first, politics felt like it was being presented
The Ministry of the Interior has long been demanding that hatred and hate speech be outlawed and removed from Telegram. So far, however, the company has not complied with the legal obligation to delete. This has recently caused growing anger in the federal government. Politics felt presented. Because the first procedures were unsuccessful because the German authorities could not even find an address for the company to which they could have sent a notification. Telegram is based in Dubai. Most recently, the government openly threatened the company with massive fines of up to 55 million euros.
Telegram is used, among other things, by radical opponents of vaccination and lateral thinkers to network for protests against the corona measures. The Thuringian protection of the constitution had recently complained that a particularly large number of concrete overthrow fantasies were being spread there. Numerous right-wing extremists also used the platform. In December, Telegram users wrote in a chat about wanting to kill Saxon Prime Minister Michael Kretschmer (CDU) because of his Corona policy.
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