Berlin wakes up to the challenges of Russia’s online offensive.
high-profile case last year of a German-Russian girl who Russian media said was kidnapped and raped by migrants in Berlin – a claim later refuted by German authorities – he said, “This could happen again next year and we are alarmed. We have the impression that this is part of a hybrid threat that seeks to influence public opinion and decision-making processes.”
Germany’s security forces are now arming themselves to fight cyberattacks. The government is trying to sharpen legislation on hate speech online and is putting Facebook under increasing pressure to take down blatantly racist, inflammatory, and inappropriate posts the same way traditional media is obliged to do. Social Democrat legislator Lars Klingbeil has proposed a mutual “no-attack” agreement for parties involved in the election campaign, and another parliamentarian, Thomas Jarzombek (CDU), is calling for a press law to hold social media in check – especially as sites like Facebook and Twitter have become primary news sources for many users.
All of Germany’s established parties have agreed not to utilize social media bots in the upcoming campaign. The question remains whether the AfD will go along with the pact. The party originally said it would make bots part of its strategy, but later distanced itself from that statement. These self-regulatory initiatives may help, but the problem is far from solved – third party actors can swoop in and create social media bots in lawmakers’ names without their knowledge, discrediting them