Twitter Users Are Escaping Online Hate by Switching Profiles To Germany

An anonymous reader shares a report: A couple years ago, a friend invited Carl Perez to a virtual world promising online discourse free of Nazis. That world was Germany. Perez, who uses gender-neutral pronouns, didn’t fly from their home in Colorado to escape the hatred they saw online. Instead, Perez simply changed their Twitter account location. “Since then, I’ve seen pretty much no nationalist content,” they said. Perez is not alone in trying to escape a sea of hate by virtually jumping ship to Germany. But local residents and researchers say German Twitter is not exactly the internet utopia some imagine.

“We are not the paradise of social media without any hate speech whatsoever,” said Stephan Dreyer, a senior media law and governance researcher at the Hans-Bredow-Institut in Germany. While the most obvious expressions of Nazism and racism may be harder to find on Twitter accounts with their locations set to Germany, there is still plenty of coded content that slips through the cracks, Dreyer said. Twitter users often point to the company’s content policy in Germany to argue it should be able to identify and remove Nazis from the platform in other regions. When Maureen Colford learned about the location setting “hack” to filter out Nazis, she said she was “amazed that somehow Twitter manages to do this in Germany,” and wondered, “why can’t they do this everywhere?”

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