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Facebook removes German far-right magazine

Alex Berry
August 29, 2020

Facebook and Instagram accounts for the far-right, conspiracy-pushing magazine Compact have been taken down. The decision follows a boycott of the social networks by advertisers over their lack of action on hate speech.

Posters for Compact Magazin
Image: Getty Images/AFP/R. Michael

Facebook and Instagram on Friday removed the accounts of a popular far-right magazine, well-known for spreading conspiracy theories. Pages belonging to the publication, which had been promoting Saturday's anti-coronavirus demonstrations in Berlin disappeared without any warning.

Compact magazine had over 90,000 likes before it was taken down and was a staple of propaganda in right-wing circles, including within the far-right party Alternative for Germany (AfD).

Breach of community standards

Facebook said it decided to remove the magazine's account for breaking the website's community standards, according to a statement given to public broadcasters Westdeutscher Rundfunk (WDR) and Norddeutscher Rundfunk (NDR).

The social media giant said that they "prohibit organizations and individuals from using our services if they systematically attack people based on characteristics such as origin, gender and nationality. Therefore we have removed Compact magazine from Facebook and Instagram.”

Read more: Johannes Hillje: 'Press freedom does not mean freedom to spread lies'

Companies around the world have been pressuring Facebook to deal with the hate and bigotry prevalent on the network by pulling their advertising. However, a representative for Facebook stressed to WDR and NDR stressed that the decision to shut down Compact had nothing to do with external pressure and had been part of a long internal investigation process.

Coronavirus conspiracy theorists

Compact had been pushing publicity for Saturday's anti-coronavirus demonstration in the German capital, along with other far-right and skeptic groups that promote conspiracy theories and antisemitism. Berlin tried to have the march banned, but this was overturned by the court.

Read more: German government 'in the dark' about guns and neo-Nazis

Germany's domestic intelligence service already placed Compact under suspicion in March and categorized the magazine as allegedly being a far-right extremist publication.

The last image on Compact's Instagram account was of Martin Sellner, leader of the Identitarian Movement, already banned from Facebook, at the previous anti-coronavirus demonstration, according to journalists from the WDR and NDR.

The editor-in-chief of the magazine expressed his dismay at the closure of the accounts, claiming that August 29 was the worst day since 1945.

With material from DPA