Hungary’s Conservative Govt Sounds Alarm on Facebook’s New ‘Soros Oversight Board’

Soros
D Dipasupil/Getty Images for Physicians for Human Rights

The Hungarian government is sounding the alarm over a powerful new oversight team for content shared on Facebook, denouncing it as the “Soros Oversight Board”.

Hungarian premier Viktor Orbán is something of an archnemesis to George Soros, the 89-year-old pro-open borders plutocrat and convicted insider trader — frequently making a point of calling out his efforts to undermine the Hungarian government’s strong pro-borders, anti-mass migration policies in a highly public manner.

Soros, in turn, has waged a sustained public relations and lawfare campaign against Orbán, alleging that the Hungarian leader has attempted to run the Central European University which he funds out of the country and attempting to overturn a “Stop Soros” package of legislation intended to make non-governmental “civil society” organisations (NGOs) be more transparent about their sources of foreign funding.

Soros does not only pick fights with Hungary’s conservative leadership, however, also turning his influence and fortune against targets including U.S. President Donald Trump, Brexit, and, most recently, Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg.

Zuckerberg might seem a strange target for Soros, but the left-liberal explained his grievance against the tech tycoon in a January opinion-editorial for the New York Times — namely that he has been insufficiently vigorous in curbing the ability of President Trump and his supporters to use social media to get him re-elected.

“I repeat and reaffirm my accusation against Facebook under the leadership of Mr Zuckerberg and Ms [Sheryl] Sandberg,” Soros railed.

“They follow only one guiding principle: maximize profits irrespective of the consequences. One way or another, they should not be left in control of Facebook.”

Zuckerberg has now, at least in the Hungarian government’s estimation, “caved to the wishes of the billionaire”, establishing a high-powered appeals board which will “make final rulings on whether Facebook posts violate the platform’s standards on nudity, hate speech and insensitivity”, according to the Wall Street Journal.

An investigation into the people currently announced for the board, has led the Hungarian government to conclude that it is not some neutral expert body, but a “Soros Oversight Board” intended to placate the billionaire activist.

“Of the four co-chairs on this new board, only one could be called conservative,” complained Zoltán Kovács, Hungary’s Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy, in an official blog post.

“A bit of digging reveals many ties to Soros-funded organizations and mouthpieces,” he continued.

Co-chairs the Hungarian raised issues with included Catalina Botero Marino, “a board member of the pro-abortion Center for Reproductive Rights, funded by Open Society Foundations” — Soros’s flagship NGO — and Helle Thorning-Schmidt, former Prime Minister of Denmark, who is “unequivocally and vocally anti-Trump” and serves alongside Soros and his son Alexander as trustee of another NGO.

Thorning-Schmidt is also the wife of anti-Brexit Labour MP Stephen Kinnock and the daughter-in-law of former Labour leader and European Commissioner Neil Kinnock.

“Lastly, among the board chairs, we have a Columbia University professor Jamal Greene. He served as an aide to Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) during Justice Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings,” Kovács continued.

“These co-chairs apparently then hand-picked the other board members for Facebook’s Oversight Board (how convenient!), who appear to range from left-liberal to far left-liberal,” he wrote.

Some of those selected were said to include:

  • A program manager at the Open Society Initiative for West Africa
  • A judge at the European Court of Human Rights and founding dean of Legal Studies at Soros’s Central European University
  • A former head of Article 19… generously funded by the Open Society Foundation

Kovács also highlighted Alan Rusbridger, a former editor of Britain’s left-wing Guardian newspaper — disparaged by the Hungarian as a “Soros mouthpiece”.

“How does this private citizen [Soros], a person who promotes an ideology far outside the mainstream, along with a group of his like-minded associates, paid employees and sympathizers move in to become regulators-in-chief for a platform catering to over 30 per cent of the world’s population?” he demanded.

“Then again, maybe I shouldn’t be so concerned. I mean, like the New York Times wrote in the byline of Soros’ op-ed, ‘Mr Soros is a philanthropist.’ What could go wrong?” he concluded sarcastically.

Follow Jack Montgomery on Twitter: @JackBMontgomery
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