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Deutsche Telekom ramps up speech policing campaign

German operator Deutsche Telekom has renewed a bid to associate its brand with a drive to eliminate ‘hate speech’.

Scott Bicheno

January 31, 2024

2 Min Read
source: dt youtube

To be clear, DT isn’t seeking to censor its own customers, yet, but it is imploring all Germans to do their bit to counter malign speech by, apparently, offsetting it with their own benign speech.

Three years ago DT launched a similar campaign but more narrowly focused on ‘an internet free from hate’. This time no limit has been placed on the provenance of the speech, but there is a special focus on antisemitism, perhaps in response to some of the public speech the recent Gaza conflict has elicited.

“Defending democratic values and being committed to a tolerant society are more important now than ever before,” said Ulrich Klenke, DT’s Chief Brand Officer. “With our new campaign, we are showing how the power of light can overcome hate. The light is a metaphor for the fact that we can all do something against hate, racism, and antisemitism – on the internet, on public streets and spaces, as is currently the case everywhere.”

"The ‘Act responsibly’ principle is a key element of our Group strategy,” said Melanie Kubin-Hardewig, DT’s Head of Corporate Responsibility. “We stand for diversity, equal opportunities and participation. The 'Licht an!' campaign reinforces our long-standing commitment 'No Hate Speech' and sends a clear signal for the defense of democratic values, which are increasingly being challenged these days.” What those values are, and how they’re being challenged, was not specified.

“With our campaign, we are again demonstrating that Deutsche Telekom takes a clear stance against all forms of exclusion, hate, incendiary speech, and discrimination,” said Christian Hahn, DT’s head of Strategy Marketing Communication and Media. “We do not tolerate discrimination in any form – whether politically, religiously, or socially motivated, or based on origin, nationality, social status, or skin colour.”

That the company’s commentary is dominated by marketing execs, with a dash of CSR thrown in, is a strong indication of the corporate strategy behind this conspicuous virtue signalling. The initiative is forming the basis of a major advertising campaign, the video manifestation of which you can see below. DT is also partnering with speech policing groups such as HateAid (which is mainly funded by the German state and antisemitism combating group Alfred Landecker Foundation) and CORRECTIV (which includes groups founded by Pierre Omidyar and George Soros, as well as DT itself, among its major funders).

We have no reason to doubt that most, if not all, DT employees long for a more pleasant public conversational environment. And, of course, aggressive bigotry should be challenged. But it’s conceptually very difficult to attribute a moral position to any organisation, let alone a commercial one. This is further complicated when their every supposedly altruistic act is accompanied by press releases and expensive branding campaigns.

About the Author(s)

Scott Bicheno

As the Editorial Director of Telecoms.com, Scott oversees all editorial activity on the site and also manages the Telecoms.com Intelligence arm, which focuses on analysis and bespoke content.
Scott has been covering the mobile phone and broader technology industries for over ten years. Prior to Telecoms.com Scott was the primary smartphone specialist at industry analyst Strategy Analytics’. Before that Scott was a technology journalist, covering the PC and telecoms sectors from a business perspective.
Follow him @scottbicheno

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