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torek, 2 marca, 2021

Facebook restricts access to minister’s account

By: V4 Agency

Facebook has restricted access to an election-related post written by the justice minister, allowing far fewer people to read the entry. The politician now expects an answer as to why access to her post was restricted, and why she was not notified in advance.

‘Do you believe in coincidences?’ Judit Varga began her post by asking this question. The Hungarian Justice Minister drew attention to the striking phenomenon that Facebook has restricted access to one of her entries.

On Monday, Judit Varga wrote a post on Facebook, noting that social media activity could play a key role in the 2022 elections in Hungary. Using online platforms allows politicians to reach a large number of voters directly, she said, pointing out that the Conservative side has made significant progress in this respect, although there is still a long way to go.

However, a few hours after the post was published, Facebook changed the algorithms for the Hungarian minister’s official account without any advance notice or justification. As a result, her posts were read by far fewer people than usual, with the number of views dropping to a quarter or one-fifth compared to the avarage. This “means that the political messages I consider important can reach far fewer people on this channel,” the justice minister said.

Social media have become intertwined with people’s everyday life, Judit Varga said, pointing out that it is wrong for these platforms to block or restrict access to certain sites – without any justification or with some unclear explanation, without the possibility of real remedy – or to reject ads ordered by users, regardless whether they are public figures, private individuals or businesses.

According to the justice minister, one of the biggest challenges of our time is whether we will be able to dominate technology or whether technology and the actors behind it will dominate our lives. She emphasized that the Digital Freedom Committee had been set up in the Ministry of Justice to examine all issues and anomalies in the online space and, if necessary, to propose changes to the legal environment in the areas of data protection, privacy rights and expression of opinion.

Judit Varga warned that we cannot not hide from the task, because this is the area that already affects the lives of our children and grandchildren. “We see what’s going on in the world, we see that the power groups behind global tech companies can even change the outcome of elections. We must not be naive, we must be prepared for any eventuality and the operations and decisions of those global companies must be made transparent,” she wrote.

Justice Minister Varga concluded her post by stressing that she expected Facebook’s Hungarian operators to inform her of the reasons and timeframe of limiting her account as well as why they had forgotten to notify her of that, and whether Hungarian political figures were regular targets of such actions.

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