Messaging service Telegram, which has proven popular with far-right groups and people opposed to COVID-related restrictions, has blocked 64 of its channels in Germany, the Sueddeutsche Zeitung reported on Friday, without giving a source of information. . The move came after the German Federal Criminal Police Office sent closure requests to the courier, the newspaper said.
Telegram it has been blamed in Germany for fueling an increasingly virulent subculture of anti-vaccine conspiracy theorists who trade news about supposed dangers and stage protests that have turned to violence.
The newspaper said the affected channels included that of Attila Hildmann, a celebrity vegan chef who spreads conspiracy theories about the coronavirus to more than 100,000 followers on the messaging service.
The German Interior Ministry, which said last week it had held constructive talks with Telegram representatives, was not immediately available to comment on the report. Telegram did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The Telegram app has become increasingly popular among activists and protesters, especially as platforms like Facebook be more receptive 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 discussing with partners in the European Union how to regulate the messaging service.
© Thomson Reuters 2021