As the German election draws closer, the right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) has been trolled online by a satirical political party which claims it managed to infiltrate the AfD’s Facebook support groups, abolish its administrators and rename the groups.
It’s rather common for political parties to turn to Facebook to promote their agendas, reach voters and serve as a gathering place for people who share the same views.
Berlin-based satirist Shahak Shapira says he and other members of the satirical Die Partei (The Party) have targeted more than 30 of AfD’s private support groups. They located them online and decided to have a little bit of fun, the Local reported, citing German media.
Die Partei reportedly managed to get inside the groups, gain the trust of administrators, and become administrators themselves. They then used that power to kick out the former administrators, make the groups’ content public and even change the names of the groups.
Shapira says it was a project that required a good bit of commitment, as Die Partei began infiltrating the groups 11 months ago and is only now exerting power within them.
“My team and I infiltrated the groups 11 months ago, now we are taking over the power,” explained Shapira in a video which was published on Facebook on Sunday.
Die Partei wasn’t without humor when carrying out its scheme. It managed to change a group titled ‘The Truth about the Antifa’ to ‘I :heart: Antifa’. The group ‘Love your Homeland’ has become ‘Love your hummus’. And ‘Sharia – more and more in Germany?’ has been changed to ‘Shakira – when is she coming back to Germany?’
The satirical political group also posted a video titled ‘The Coup’ to the groups’ Facebook pages, which have a combined membership of nearly 200,000 people, Deutsche Welle reports. In the video, Shapira explained to AfD members that their groups were now being led by Die Partei.
The AfD groups were set up by a party member in southern Germany, but the right-wing content was regularly published by computer bots, Shapira said, adding that he wanted to show the groups’ members that they were being fooled.
“Now at least you will only be mucked around by real people,” the comedian said.
Shapira also said that new rules were being imposed to all members, including that “hate speech towards Islam is now to be done facing Mecca,” taking aim at the fact that the AfD has been criticized for its anti-immigration stance and been accused of Islamophobia.
He also said that all groups must have a “minimum refugee quota” of 18 percent – a jab at the AfD’s outspoken stance against the influx of refugees pouring into Germany, and of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s open-door policy for asylum seekers.
Israel-born Shapira also said that the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad would have the right to turn on the group members’ webcams at any time.
“That means me. I am from Mossad,” he said, probably joking.
Die Partei was founded in 2004 by the editors of the German satirical magazine ‘Titanic,’ and refers to itself as a haven for voters disappointed by other parties. It won a seat in the 2014 European Parliament election, marking the first time that a satirical party had ever achieved such a milestone.
While the satirical Die Partei is unlikely to make it over the five percent hurdle needed to gain MPs in the upcoming election on September 24, the right-wing AfD is set to become the third-largest party in the German parliament, according to a poll published by INSA and Bild last month.