Telegram communication app: popular tool among conspiracy believers
Photo: Sergei Konkov / dpa / TASS
Attila Hildmann has lost part of his reach in the Telegram messenger app.
Since the beginning of the corona crisis, the vegan chef had spread conspiracy myths and right-wing extremist content to around 100,000 subscribers.
Since Tuesday afternoon, the channel can no longer be accessed as usual in the iOS and Android versions of the app.
On Android phones, instead of the postings, a message appears: "This message cannot be displayed on Telegram apps that have been downloaded from the Google Play Store." Hildmann's much smaller replacement channel, on the other hand, can be easily accessed on Wednesday morning via Telegram's mobile apps .
What exactly is behind the restriction is unclear, Telegram may have become active itself.
So far, the company is not known for deleting right-wing extremist content on a large scale.
A study from last year showed that Telegram only deleted right-wing terrorist posts in every tenth case, even if they were actively reported via the app.
With the move, the operators of the app could want to curb the risk of Apple or Google being thrown out of their app stores because of problematic content.
This is supported by the fact that the block only applies to the Telegram apps from the app stores of the two companies.
The Hildmann channel can still be controlled via Telegram's desktop app, for example.
Hildmann was able to continue posting despite the block in the mobile versions of the messenger.
"A lot of people are wondering where has my channel gone," said a voice message that night in which Hildmann asked his fans to forward the link to the replacement channel.
In addition to Hildmann's channel, according to SPIEGEL research, another German channel is no longer available on Telegram.
It is a channel that broadcasts right-wing extremist content that glorifies terrorism.
Attila Hildmann himself claimed on Tuesday that Apple and Google had "censored" his channel, although app store providers usually do not have any direct influence on content within apps.
Hildmann also speculated on one of his websites that it was "only a matter of time" until Telegram shut down its main channel completely.
On request, Google denied having anything to do with the restriction of the channel.
You don't block individual content within apps, you can only decide as a whole whether an app is released for the Play Store or not, according to the company.
Apple has not commented on the case so far.
mbö / hpp