Hungary weighs Big Tech sanctions over ‘systemic abuses’ of free speech
Colby McCoy, DCNF
Hungarian Justice Minister Judit Varga said Monday that Hungary is considering sanctions against big tech firms over alleged “systemic abuses” of free speech, Reuters reported.
Varga plans to meet with the Hungarian Competition Authority this week to discuss possible penalties for what he says are unfair commercial practices utilized by social media firms including Facebook and Twitter, according to Reuters. In addition, the minister plans to convene a meeting with the state-sponsored Digital Freedom Committee.
Government officials have begun to criticize alleged censorship of conservatives on social media platforms.
Varga decried supposed “shadowban” techniques used by social media firms in a Facebook post, saying “To reduce their reach, Facebook also limits the visibility of Christian, conservative, right-wing opinions. I also have personal experience of that.”
In the post, Varga cited a tweet by Project Veritas founder James O’Keefe describing Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey’s plan to ban President Donald Trump’s account as well as additional accounts held by conservative commentators.
— James O'Keefe (@JamesOKeefeIII) January 14, 2021
Varga has argued for social media companies to be regulated at the European Union level but also alludes to the possibility of needing to “step up sooner” due to the flagrant nature of the alleged abuses, according to her Facebook post.
Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who uses the platform to announce government measures on COVID-19 and economic policy, has more than 1 million Facebook followers, about 10% of the population, Reuters reported.
Although Orban enjoys total control over state media outlets, the prime minister is currently facing a neck-and-neck parliamentary election in 2022, potentially bringing his decade long rule to an end, Reuters reported.
Hungary’s potential sanctioning of Facebook follows reports of a proposed law in Poland that aims to hold social media firms accountable for censoring political commentators by prohibiting the removal of any posts deemed legal by Polish law, the Daily Caller reported.