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German anti-racism body leaves X over 'rise in hate speech'

October 11, 2023

A German agency that tackles discrimination and racism says it is quitting the social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter. It cited a rise in hate speech since owner Elon Musk took over last year.

This photo illustration shows the X logo
The agency urged German public bodies to "ask themselves whether it is still acceptable to remain" on X Image: Chris Delmas/AFP

Germany's Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency (FADA) on Wednesday said it was leaving X because of "an enormous rise" in hate speech.

FADA said hateful comments and disinformation had "increased particularly" since Tesla tycoon Elon Musk took over the platform formerly known as Twitter last year.

What the agency said

In a statement, FADA said there had been an "enormous increase" in anti-trans and homophobic hostility, racism, misogyny, anti-semitism and other misanthropic content. "In our opinion, X is no longer an acceptable environment" for a public body, it said.

The agency's commissioner, Ferda Ataman, said other state agencies and government ministries should ask themselves whether it made sense to remain on a platform that has "become a disinformation network."

Ataman said FADA could only try to combat the surge in hate comments by channeling more resources to the platform, which could be a questionable use of public money.

Surge in disinformation

A rise in disinformation on the platform, with doctored images and misleading claims, has been reported since the Palestinian terror group Hamas launched a massive surprise attack on Israel on Saturday. 

Many German officials have resisted calls to quit X, saying there was no substitute channel at present that would allow them to reach a broad section of the online public.

The country's foreign, economy and finance ministries still maintain profiles on X, as well as Chancellor Olaf Scholz and the government itself.

Twitter under Musk: Threat to activists worldwide?

The European Union on Tuesday said it had warned Musk over the reports of fake content and the glorification of violence. 

A letter sent to X by the EU's internal market chief Thierry Breton said concerns had heightened after the Hamas attack. It demanded that Musk respond and contact "relevant law enforcement authorities" within 24 hours.

X said it had taken steps to curb the recent spread of inappropriate posts and that it had removed newly created Hamas-affiliated accounts to "prevent terrorist content from being distributed online."

rc/sms (Reuters, AFP)

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