Fake news just before the parliamentary elections

These are the distorted realities that Facebook fans of the CDU believe


Just prior to the parliamentary elections, we analysed which online topics fans of the CDU Facebook page liked the most over a four-day period. Fake news items were also trending.

Topic interests of the CDU online community from September 17 2017 to September 20, 2017.

Content about factual or putative refugee crimes

Angela Merkel and the AfD: These are the hot topics amongst fans of the CDU Facebook page just before the elections. Even though users are also interested in Martin Schulz, the SPD candidate for the chancellorship is outpaced by a whole range of refugee topics.

Users engage particularly often with content about factual or putative refugee crimes. Posts with links to online texts with terms like “Sleeping women raped”, “number of asylum cases”, “young men” and “in broad daylight” are trending. Many of these posts consist of content that has been cobbled together from other sources or is misleading or exaggerated.

Brawl described as “beginning territorial fights”

Text from the right-wing website Epoch Times.

For instance, fans of the CDU Facebook page are repeatedly sharing a September 18th text about sexual assaults and a mass brawl at a fair in Upper Franconia from the right-wing website Epoch Times. On this website, the brawl is described as “beginning territorial fights” between natives and refugees. The article is presented as a news story, but it is pieced together from text fragments from earlier reliable media reports on the incident. An embedded video displays an Epoch Times logo while the logo of the Bavarian public service broadcaster Bayerischer Rundfunk and the words “Frankenschau aktuell” (a Bayerischer Rundfunk TV news broadcast) are also visible.

Trend: AfD supporters’ texts

A text on the website unzensuriert.de

A text on the website unzensuriert.de, which is known for its inflammatory content, claims that it has reported about the rape of a teenager by several Afghans in a timely manner while the police had hidden the incident. In reality, however, several media outlets had already reported on the case before unzensuriert.de took the story up on September 17th. The text was also published long after the police’s press statement was released.

Different AfD supporters’ texts are also trending amongst fans of the CDU Facebook page. A text from the right-wing agitation website blog.halle-leaks.de in which site operator Sven Liebich pretends to be a leftist who “will now vote for AfD” because all other parties have failed and gives his reasons for allegedly changing political sides.

AfD election campaign slogan at a football stadium in Munich

Text on Journalistenwatch.com

Fans of the CDU Facebook page are also interested in a text on Journalistenwatch.com, in which the author claims that AfD Bavaria was wrongfully interrupted by the police while they were projecting a election campaign slogan at Munich’s  Allianz Arena football stadium. However, local newspaper Abendzeitung clarified that such a promotional activity had not been authorized.

The analysis is based on posts that have been posted or shared in the Facebook communities of CDU just prior to the parliamentary elections. The results are not representative but they allow deep insights into the chosen targets groups.

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