Accusing him of “harming society”, Facebook has taken new actions against the content of Querdenken, a German movement opposed among others to containment measures and counting in its ranks many anti-vaccination activists.
On September 16, Facebook presented a new tool to fight against groups and individuals using its platform to spread content that the American company qualifies as “harmful to society”, criticizing, for example, vaccines against Covid-19.
First target of the social network: the German movement Querdenken – which literally means “lateral thinking” and perhaps translated as “Anti-conformist” – whose Instagram pages and accounts have been purged, without however all of their content being banned. Querdenken associates health measures against the coronavirus with unconstitutional deprivations of liberty, claims a questioning of official information on Covid-19, and has in its ranks many activists opposed to vaccination against the virus. It brings together left and right members and has organized many demonstrations since the start of the pandemic.
While Nils Melzer, United Nations special rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment was concerned about the brutality of the police during the dispersal of one of these demonstrations, the spokesperson word of the Berlin police Thilo Cablitz replied in these terms, quoted by the Süddeutsche Zeitung : “Direct coercion is violence, violence hurts […] [Elle] is nevertheless part of our legal system. ”
A “highly antagonistic” movement accused of “harming society”
At a press conference, Facebook’s director of security regulations Nathaniel Gleicher made this statement, relayed by AFP: “Coordinated campaigns to harm society usually involve genuine user networks, which ‘organize among themselves to systematically break our rules in order to cause damage on the platform or outside. “
About QuerdenkenNathaniel Gleicher said that many of the movement’s publications “focused primarily on promoting a conspiracy theory that the restrictions [anti-Covid-19] of the German government are part of a larger plan to deprive citizens of their fundamental rights and freedoms ”. According to Facebook, Querdenken “Generally presented violence as the means to overturn government measures linked to the pandemic and which limit individual freedoms”. The movement is also accused of having “engaged in physical violence against journalists, police officers and doctors in Germany”.
“Today we shared the removal of a coordinated network of accounts, pages and groups linked to people associated with the German movement Querdenken. They have systematically violated our policies and coordinated to cause serious social harm, ”Nathaniel Gleicher said on Twitter.
1 / Today we shared removed a coordinated network of accounts, Pages and groups linked to individuals associated with the German Querdenken movement. They systematically violated our policies and coordinated to drive severe social harm. https://t.co/VlRMtsV53L
– Nathaniel Gleicher (@ngleicher) September 16, 2021
The social network had already taken piecemeal action against content that violated its regulations on medical disinformation, incitement to violence, harassment, etc. He now considers this movement as a “security threat”.
Nathaniel Gleicher’s team therefore intends to apply cybersecurity tactics, usually reserved for manipulation operations orchestrated by anonymous actors. Because without being terrorist groups classified as “dangerous” by the platform – and therefore totally banned – Querdenken and other potential movements operate “highly antagonist”, said Nathaniel Gleicher, who clarified that these “adapt to coercive measures [de Facebook] and coordinate to avoid being spotted ”.
The social network, which has nearly three billion monthly users, is moving cautiously. On the one hand, he is accused by American Democrats, European governments and many NGOs of contributing to the spread of disinformation and, on the other, conservatives in many countries accuse him of “censoring” freedom of expression. . Through the voice of David Agranovich, a director of the social network team, Facebook has therefore declared that it does not want to “create a rule that would have infringed organized, genuine and non-harmful networks”.
The debate on content related to the pandemic has grown to such proportions that in July US President Joe Biden estimated that the Californian group and other platforms “tu[aient] people ”by letting circulate false information about the vaccination against the Covid.