The messaging service Telegram, which has proved popular with far-right groups and people opposing COVID-related restrictions, has blocked 64 of its channels in Germany, the Sueddeutsche Zeitung reported on Friday, without providing a source for the information. . The move came after Germany’s Federal Criminal Police Department sent the messaging service’s shutdown requests, the paper said.
Telegram has been accused in Germany of feeding an increasingly virulent subculture of anti-vaccine conspiracy theorists who exchange news about alleged dangers and organize protests that escalate into violence.
The newspaper said affected channels include that of Attila Hildmann, a vegan chef who spreads coronavirus conspiracy theories to more than 100,000 followers on the messaging service.
Germany’s Interior Ministry, which said last week it had held constructive talks with Telegram representatives, was not immediately available for 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 like Facebook become more responsive to government pressure to crack down on those who spread lies, threats or conspiracy theories.
Interior Minister Nancy Faeser said in comments published last month that Germany could shut down Telegram and that it was in discussions with its partners in the European Union on how to regulate the messaging service.
© Thomson Reuters 2021