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12th April, 2019

Cabinet facing clash with Facebook

The Orbán cabinet is preparing to regulate Facebook, as the social media network may wish to vet pro-government advertisements in the EU election campaign, according to HVG.

The cabinet denies the claim.

Until now Fidesz has profited from the fact that its sometimes false anti-refugee videos have reached millions of people, now it is expressing concerns about freedom of speech, the weekly adds.

In most countries Facebook will introduce a so-called “white list” of safe media products, but not in Hungary, HVG reports in its latest print edition.

The weekly says Facebook decided that it will allow news posted on its website to be disseminated only following preliminary checks and controls, in an effort to prevent the spread of fake news.

No media outlet in Hungary has been exempted from preliminary checks because leading Facebook officials say that a significant part of the domestic media is not reliable enough.

A Facebook employee privately explained the Hungarian situation at an international journalists’ festival in Perugia last week by saying the word “Kesma,” referring to the foundation that controls Fidesz press products.

HVG said it is probably no coincidence that the pro-Fidesz Századvég institute came up with proposals to regulate Facebook at a conference on Monday.

A declaration following the conference on censorship and free speech listed eight ways in which “nation states” should regulate social media, especially Facebook, including the punishment of Facebook’s censors with the force of criminal law.

Sources regularly consulted, with abbreviations used in text: Népszabadság (N); Magyar Hírlap (MH); Világgazdaság (VG); Napi Gazdaság (NG); Magyar Nemzet (MN); Népszava (Nsz); Kossuth Rádió news (KR); nightly TV news (TV).

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