Facebook bans German anti-foreclosure accounts under new ‘social harm’ policy
Facebook has removed nearly 150 accounts and pages linked to anti-lockdown protesters in Germany, the company said on Thursday, as part of a new policy focused on groups that spread disinformation or incite violence but do not do not fit into the platform’s existing categories of bad actors.
Accounts on Facebook FB,
and Instagram posted content related to the so-called Querdenken movement, a disparate group that has protested against the lockdown measures in Germany and includes opponents of vaccines and masks, conspiracy theorists and some far-right extremists.
The accounts‘ posts included a debunked claim that vaccines create viral variants and another that wished the death of the police officers who interrupted the violent anti-lockdown protests in Berlin.
The action is the first under Facebook’s new policy focused on preventing “coordinated social damage,” which company officials say is an attempt to address content from working social media users. together to spread harmful content and evade platform rules.
Under its long-standing guidelines, Facebook has removed accounts that use fake personalities or spread hate speech or make threats of violence. The new policy is aimed at intercepting groups working together in an attempt to bend the rules, while disseminating harmful content.
In the case of the Querdenken Network, Facebook said several account holders were using both individual and duplicate accounts to distribute content that violated Facebook’s rules on COVID-19 disinformation, hate speech, l intimidation and incitement to violence.
It was this coordinated effort to deceive, along with the damaging content and a history of past violations, that prompted Facebook to act, according to Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook’s chief security officer.
“Merely sharing a belief or affinity with a particular movement or group would not be enough” to warrant a similar response, he told reporters on a conference call Thursday.
Germany’s domestic intelligence agency has placed some of Querdenker’s adherents under surveillance as the movement increasingly radicalized and its protests have drawn neo-Nazis and other right-wing extremists.