Germany fines Telegram over missing complaint mechanism

Germany has fined messaging app Telegram €5 million for failing to set up channels for users to report illegal posts.

A smartphone with the Telegram logo.
A smartphone with the Telegram logo. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Fabian Sommer

“The internet is not a lawless space. Criminal content like death threats must also be prosecuted on the internet. Among other things, platforms are duty-bound to provide an appropriate complaint system,” wrote the interior ministry in a tweet on Tuesday.

Under German regulations, online social media are required to offer channels for users to flag up potentially criminal content.

The media are also required to remove illegal content and report it to police.

Telegram has come under scrutiny in recent years as extremists have increasingly turned to the app to spread hate or even death threats.

During the coronavirus pandemic, the app was used by some anti-vaccine protesters to share false information and to encourage violence against politicians.

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Tesla’s German factory expansion plans suffer setback

Tesla said Wednesday it will have to rethink expansion plans for its German factory, the electric carmaker's only European plant, after local residents opposed them in a vote.

Tesla's German factory expansion plans suffer setback

The vote, which was not legally binding, related to a project to expand the Grünheide site, south of Berlin, by 170 hectares (420 acres), from a current size of 300 hectares.

The US company hopes to increase production at the plant to up to one million vehicles annually as well as ramp up the number of employees.

But 3,499 people voted against the expansion, with 1,882 in favour, in a vote Tuesday that saw about 76 percent of local residents cast ballots.

Opponents’ concerns include deforestation required for the expansion, the plant’s high water consumption, and an increase in road traffic in the area.

“We recognise that the citizens of Gruenheide have concerns in connection with the planned expansion of the site,” said Tesla, which is owned by Elon Musk, in a statement following the vote.

READ ALSO: Tesla seeks to double capacity at German plant

Now it was up to local authorities to decide on the land use planning procedures, it said.

“We will coordinate further steps together with all those involved,” Tesla said, adding it was aiming to shift much lorry traffic to rail and ensure infrastructure around the plant was developed quickly.

Local mayor Arne Christiani said authorities had failed to make it clear to voters that “other important infrastructure projects”, such as a major new road and an upgrade of the rail station, were part of the development plans.

The Grünheide factory opened in 2022 after an arduous two-year approval and construction process dogged by administrative and legal obstacles.