Hungarians and Poles line up against Facebook censorship

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By: V4 Agency

Hungary’s justice ministry is to conduct a social survey on Facebook censorship, which will serve as a basis for a joint EU survey. The initiative was announced shortly after a draft bill had been submitted in Poland on a similar topic, signaling that Eastern Europe will take up the fight against online censorship.

Social networking sites have increased their censorship even compared to the level seen before, Hungarian Justice Minister Judit Varga said. She pointed out that site deactivations have reached an extent when they have economic consequences.

“We must fight. Make no mistake, the social media will not only constantly intervene in the operation of the right-wing editorial offices, but they will also interfere in the Hungarian elections,” the minister said in an interview with Pesti TV. She added that Joe Biden’s presidency would unleash US tech gurus who would do everything to overthrow the “Trumps” of the world, she said.

The minister pointed out that social media is also used by economic actors, whose existence depends on the operation of these outlets, adding that deactivating accounts for a day or two can cause serious loss of revenue and economic damage. The justice ministry’s Digital Freedom Committee is contributing to the EU regulation of global tech companies in a bid to put an end to the systematic abuses, Judit Varga said.

Poland has initiated new legislation on the same subject to protect online freedom of speech. The new law will aim to prevent social media platforms from removing contents or users that do not violate Polish laws. Citizens using social media should feel that their rights are protected and the contents they publish will not be arbitrarily deleted, said Sebastian Kaleta, the Polish justice ministry’s state secretary.

Weighing in on the debate, Polish PM Mateusz Morawiecki said his government does not support censorship and never will. “Anything that is not forbidden is allowed. This also applies to the internet,” he said.

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