| ESSEN, Germany
ESSEN, Germany Dec 6 After a U.S. presidential
election and Brexit campaign that were tarnished by lies,
vicious political attacks and deceptive online news stories,
Germany is promising to double down on facts, values and
At a congress of Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives on
Tuesday, speaker after speaker talked about the importance of
respect and moderation in politics, with some criticising social
media platforms Facebook and Twitter for
facilitating the spread of false news.
"The truth remains the truth, and lies remain lies," German
Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere told 1,000 delegates of the
Christian Democratic Union (CDU), gathered in a vast convention
centre in the western city of Essen. "I don't want to live in a
world in which algorithms determine political views."
Volker Bouffier, premier of the state of Hesse, told the
audience that Germany must safeguard its "culture of respect".
"That is what differentiates us from the troublemakers, the
extremists and those that think you can explain the world in 140
characters," he said, in an apparent dig at U.S. President-elect
Donald Trump, who has continued to send provocative tweets since
his victory last month.
In Germany, where politicians rarely engage in personal
attacks, Trump's campaign with its steady stream of
unsubstantiated claims and vicious attacks on his opponent
Hillary Clinton was watched with horror.
Berlin was also unsettled by misleading claims made by
Brexit campaigners, who promised voters that hundreds of million
of pounds per week would be freed up for the National Health
Service if Britons voted to leave the EU.
The German government has been a leading critic of platforms
like Facebook, with Merkel confronting the company's founder
Mark Zuckerberg at the United Nations in New York last year and
pressing him to do more to crack down on racist posts.
Supporters of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD)
party and the anti-Muslim Pegida movement have taken to chanting
"Luegenpresse", or lying press, at rallies, a term used by the
Nazis to discredit mainstream media.
Breitbart News, a U.S. site that was run by Trump's campaign
manager Stephen Bannon and has been a platform for white
nationalists and right-wing conspiracy theories, has said it
plans to expand into Europe ahead of elections in France and
Germany next year.
"The Internet is not a lawless place," Merkel said in her
speech at the conference on Tuesday.
(Additional reporting by Paul Carrel; Editing by Hugh Lawson)