7 Out Of The 10 Most Viral Articles About Angela Merkel On Facebook Are False

The most popular fake news post about the German chancellor leads to a Catholic version of YouTube that's apparently run by people in Moscow using servers in Moldova. Yes, seriously.

There have been hundreds of articles and videos published about the Angela Merkel, but no German-language post has attracted more shares, comments, and reactions on Facebook in the last five years than a video from Gloria.tv headlined "Angela Merkel: Germans have to accept foreigners' violence."

In fact, a BuzzFeed News analysis found that 7 of the 10 top-performing German posts about Angela Merkel on Facebook the last five years are false.

Using BuzzSumo, BuzzFeed News identified the articles about Angela Merkel published in the last five years that generated the highest total number of shares, reactions, and comments on Facebook. Of the top 10, seven were false or a hoax, and the remaining three were either true or based on an opinion. All 10 were slanted against Merkel.

The analysis found that false stories and fake news about Merkel spread widely on Facebook, especially when linked with the topic of refugees. These stories come from far-right websites and other nontraditional media, and outperform traditional media coverage of the chancellor. One reason this content spreads so widely is that it's shared by a variety of right-wing Facebook pages and groups.

This finding is similar to a previous BuzzFeed News analysis of German and English-language content about Merkel that looked at the top-performing content in 2016.

The analysis also shows that German websites are not the only ones getting in on the action. One of the most successful posts is based on a video by far-right Canadian media outlet The Rebel.

The list of top-performing content also includes supposedly satirical articles that fooled people. One that claimed that "Angela Merkel was run over in a traffic accident" was published by a "website for funny pictures," debeste.de. That site is registered to an address in Poland.

German website Eine-Zeitung.net also published the article "Merkel wants to give all refugees the right to vote as soon as possible", which earned the second-most engagements on Facebook. But, aside from the words "In Satira Veritas" ("Truth in Satire") in the logo, there is no indication the post is satirical. Many readers thought the satirical articles were real and scolded Merkel and the lying press in the comments.

The top post about Merkel, from Gloria.tv, is a 7-second video clip in which the chancellor only says one sentence.

But does Merkel actually promote acceptance of foreigners' violence like it says in the headline? No. The sentence in the video is taken out of context and the headline turns her real statement into the opposite of what it meant.

The clip is taken from a 2011 video, according to German fact-checking website Mimikama.

Gloria.tv's slogan is "the more Catholic the better." It's a platform similar to YouTube where users can upload videos.

This is the building where the contact for the website is supposed to be based. There is no email address or telephone number. BuzzFeed News mailed a letter containing questions for Gloria.tv to its address in Moscow, but has not received a response.

BuzzFeed News contacted the user account, Tina 13, that uploaded the viral video on Gloria.tv. The person who replied denied they are the creator of the video.

This post was translated from German.

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