The Telegram messaging service, which has proven popular with far-right groups and people opposed to COVID restrictions, has blocked 64 of its channels in Germany, Sueddeutsche Zeitung reported on Friday, without giving a source. information. The move came after Germany’s Federal Criminal Police Office sent closure requests to the courier, the newspaper said.
Telegram has been accused in Germany of fueling an increasingly vocal subculture of anti-vaccine conspiracy theorists who swap information about supposed dangers and stage protests that have turned violent.
The newspaper said the affected channels included that of Attila Hildmann, a celebrity vegan chef who spreads coronavirus conspiracy theories to more than 100,000 subscribers on the messaging service.
The German Interior Ministry, which last week said it had held constructive talks with representatives of Telegram, was not immediately available to comment on the report. Telegram did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The Telegram app has become increasingly popular with activists and protesters, especially as platforms such as Facebook become more responsive to government pressure to crack down on those who spread lies, threats or theories of conspiracy.
Interior Minister Nancy Faeser had said in remarks published last month that Germany could shut down Telegram and that she was discussing with partners in the European Union how to regulate the messaging service.
© Thomson Reuters 2021