Whatsapp status can be punishable: court imposes a fine of 750 euros

Adam Smith
Adam Smith
3 Min Read

There are pictures and videos that should not be distributed in Germany – not even by posting them as a status on a messenger like Whatsapp. A man had to learn this the hard way: he had to pay a fine of 750 euros for posting a Hitler video on Whatsapp.

That was decided by the district court in Frankfurt. The 41-year-old had already uploaded an approximately 80-second video to the Whatsapp status function in 2019. With the text “I fought against Jewish tyranny,” the former German dictator can be seen there, among other things, showing the Hitler salute. According to the court, a golden swastika and the swastika flag are also shown. All of them are symbols that are forbidden in Germany under the criminal code of hate speech.

Sedition is also illegal in Messenger

The dissemination of such symbols in the form of the media also constitutes hate speech. The court ruled that nothing would change that they were distributed as Whatsapp status. Because anyone who saved the corresponding mobile number and installed the messenger could have called up the status, it was a matter of “spreading” the banned media.

The large user base of the messenger was also taken into account. Because the clip could be accessed by anyone without restriction for 24 hours, the court estimated that, given the 229 contacts stored on the device, around 75 people should have seen the video. In the judges’ opinion, it doesn’t matter whether they actually call it off. In fact, one of the contacts who saw the clip reported the man to the police.

Mild Judgment

The man had claimed in court that he hadn’t thought anything of posting the clip and didn’t pay attention to the text. But because he confessed and the crime was two years ago, the court decided on a very mild fine. Theoretically, a prison sentence of up to three years could have been imposed for the offense of incitement to hatred. The judgment handed down at the beginning of January is not yet final.

The distribution of prohibited content is becoming fatal for more and more Messenger users. The police are warning that young people are increasingly spreading media in chat groups that are legally classified as child pornography. Spreading it has been punished much more severely since last year: since the summer, sending such material has been considered a crime.


Hi, I'm Adam and I'm passionate about writing engaging content for online blogs and publications. I specialize in topics like technology, travel and food.
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