New report: Meta profiting from far-right ads pushing hate speech and Islamophobia to voters in Germany

May 29, 2024

- Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) party ads draw link between Muslim immigration and an ‘explosion’ in sexual assault and violent crime, and advocate for mass deportation.

- Meta monetizing ads placed by a group categorized as extremist by German intelligence agencies.

- Campaigners call on EU Commission to demand Meta adopt emergency measures ahead of critical elections.

New research shows that Meta is monetising far-right content targeting German voters, with ads that appear to breach its own community policies and advertising standards,  and risk driving support for the extremist AFD party ahead of critical EU elections.

The investigation by corporate accountability group Ekō uncovered a series of 23 ads, primarily paid for by AfD regional party groups and leading AfD elected representatives, which push hate speech, racist and anti-democratic narratives, and anti-immigrant disinformation and collectively received over 470,000 impressions. These include ads that appear to contain AI-generated imagery but were not labelled as such and therefore potentially breach Meta’s new policy on AI-manipulated ads. Researchers found:

  • Ads claiming Muslim immigrants are the main perpetrators of sexual assault, rape and other violent crimes, including several containing what appear to be AI-generated images, including of an injured white woman and another of a group of hooded men, which given the AfD’s Islamophobic stance can be assumed to be portraying persons of Muslim heritage.
  • Several ads placed by the accounts of leading AfD Bundestag elected representatives, including one blaming immigrants for rising rates of infectious diseases.
  • Ads depicting immigrants as a major economic burden in order to argue for mass deportation, or “re-migration.”
  • An ad from an AfD party branch that has been designated extremist by the relevant state intelligence agencies in Germany.
  • Together the ads received over half million impressions over a 90 day period.
  • In addition to paid advertising, these accounts also post on their own Facebook pages where these organic posts enjoy substantial reach. 75 AfD pages identified by researchers racked up a total of 4.34 million interactions across a six month period.

The AfD has come under heavy criticism for its advocacy of extreme policies such as mass deportation. Revelations in January that top AfD officials had secretly met to plan out the mass expulsion of asylum seekers and German nationals of with a migration background under the euphemism “re-migration”, caused a national outcry. One AfD party ad account (Saxony-Anhalt) identified in the research has been categorised as having ‘extremist aspirations’, the highest threat level used by the state intelligence services. 

Civil society organizations, tech experts and some politicians have long sounded the alarm  about the role of social media platforms in amplifying the hate speech and conspiracy theories propagated by the far-right such as . This ‘megaphone effect’ is driven by powerful recommender systems which directly target and mobilize voters with a bespoke stream of content designed to maximize engagement.

Ekō Campaign director Vicky Wyatt said:

“This isn't a far-right dog whistle, it's a far-right foghorn. That Meta hasn't done anything to stop it shows how deeply unserious they are about protecting democracy. But Europe's leaders have the world's toughest tech laws at their disposal, and can use them right now to pull Meta into line and protect all our futures.”

The EU Commission recently announced that it has launched infringement proceedings over Meta’s compliance with the Digital Services Act, relating to deceptive advertising and political content. But with European Parliamentary elections just weeks away, it is critical that urgent, additional measures are taken to protect people’s rights and guard against immediate threats to democracy.

Ekō, alongside other civil society organizations within the People vs Big Tech network, is calling on EU Commissioner Thierry Breton to force tech companies to take further steps to safeguard the EU elections by:

  • Turning off profiling-based recommender systems the week before and the week of the EU elections.
  • And implement other appropriate ‘break-glass’ measures to prevent algorithmic amplification of borderline content, such as misinformation (according to independent third-party fact-checkers) or hateful content in the run-up elections. 


For more information or interviews contact Vicky Wyatt at +1 415 960 7920 or