The Germans are making accusations of “meddling” in their election that is expected to hand Chancellor Angela Merkel a fourth term. But researchers say that this time, Russia isn’t the one doing the “meddling.”
Researchers claim that there is evidence that “right-wing groups in the United States” are behind the materials popping up on YouTube, messaging board sites like 4chan and Reddit, and texting service Gab.ai.
“So far we have not been able to track down any specific Russian activity,” said Simon Hegelich, a professor of political science data at the Technical University of Munich who has advised the German government about the threat of hacking and false information. Yet there is still an online dashboard which monitors “Russian propaganda” about the German election.
Hegelich also said that proving connections among sympathizers is extremely difficult and may never be conclusive. “A lot of the stuff we are seeing in Germany can be linked to, or is at least inspired by, the ‘alt-right’ movement in the U.S.,” Hegelich said, referring to the very loosely defined group.
But, according to USA Today, an analysis of 300 million tweets over the past six months by Hegelich and researchers at the Technical University of Munich shows Germany is a hotspot for posts that use the hashtag “#AltRight.”
A report published Wednesday by Hope Not Hate, a British anti-racism watchdog, concluded that the alt-right movement has “breathed life and youth back into formerly declining and dormant parts of the European extreme right.”
The report, based on an undercover investigation of far-right figureheads, found that extremist individuals, organizations, websites and forums on both sides of the Atlantic are increasingly engaging with each another and “weaponizing” the Internet. – USA Today
So apparently, free speech is now “weaponizing the Internet.” This is exactly how propagandists get people to agree to their own censorship. Sandro Gaycken, the founder and director of the Berlin-based Digital Society Institute, said right-wing voices are trying to infiltrate conversations about the German election on Facebook and other social media platforms.
Oh, the horror! People want their voices heard and to speak their mind! It MUST be election meddling…
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