According to a major report, the German state is behind hundreds of fake “far-right” accounts posting extremist content across numerous online social media websites
The report was published this week in Süddeutsche Zeitung, which is one of Germany’s biggest newspapers. The paper claims that Germany’s Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution has been running hundreds of extremist accounts online, with an aim of infiltrating certain groups that German authorities have an interest in.
Reportedly, federal office civil servants behind the accounts have been given permission to break German hate speech laws in the course of their work.
“Many people who are victims of right-wing online hate speech would probably be amazed if they knew what is now being posted and liked on behalf of the state,” said Ron Steinke, the journalist who wrote the report.
At least some of the accounts are involved in actively promoting the extremist views in question, with the report claiming that one agent emphasised the need to “feed this bubble” of radical ideology.
The content posted includes not only “far-right” and “neo-Nazi” material, however. German authorities have also been behind far-Left, anti-vaxx and Islamic jihadist accounts issuing radical posts. They have even run accounts espousing the views of “Reich Citizens” – a term used to describe individuals who reject the legitimacy of the modern German state.
Reportedly, the government has employed psychologists to help employees cope with the stress of the job, and also to ensure the agents in question “stay straight” and don’t become radicalised in the course of their work.
One senior official allegedly said that “not everyone” is able to pretend to be an extremist “without becoming part of that scene,” but reportedly refused to say how many government spies had ended up being radicalised during the project, if any.
Germany is not the only country whose authorities appear to be involved in undercover extremism.
Earlier this year BBC News reported how an FBI agent had “posed undercover as a bomb maker” to infiltrate an extremist group that had allegedly planned to kidnap the governer of Michigan, Gretchen Whitmer. The men’s lawyers claim that their clients were entrapped by the FBI, as the intelligence agency had played an active role in the kidnapping plot.
Gretchen Whitmer: FBI agent 'bomb-maker' in kidnap plot https://t.co/hkpikLd8SM
— BBC North America (@BBCNorthAmerica) March 29, 2022