German authorities crack down on online hate speech against politicians

In a coordinated action, German authorities are cracking down on online hate speech directed at politicians by conducting searches and interrogating more than 100 suspects across Germany, the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) said on Tuesday.

The criminal offenses were related to insults against nationally known politicians. Other hate postings contained misleading fake news and misquotes that “appear suitable for defaming and discrediting the people concerned,” the BKA noted. Two in three victims of online hate speech were female politicians.

“Freedom of opinion reaches its limits when it comes to defamation, insults and threats,” BKA President Holger Muench said. With this joint operation, “we are making it clear that anyone who posts hate messages must expect the police to be at the front door afterwards.”

The joint operation is based on an investigation by the country’s internet crime agency ZIT and the BKA into statements made on social media platforms in connection with last year’s federal elections. More than 600 statements have been analyzed and checked for criminal content. ■

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