Hungary to Oppose ‘Shadowbanning’ of ‘Christian, Conservative, and Right-Wing’ Voices Online

AP Photo/Francois Mori

The Hungarian government is following Poland in moving against Big Tech, vowing action against the “shadowbanning” of “Christian, conservative, [and] right-wing opinions”.

“‘Shadowban’ means the act of social media providers secretly, for political purposes, restricting the visibility and access of our user profile without our knowledge about it,” explained Judit Varga, the Minister of Justice in Viktor Orbán’s national conservative government, in a statement shared on social media, claiming that she has herself had “personal experience” of such treatment at the hands of “Big Tech”.

“Tech companies thus violate all those fundamental democratic legal norms that form the basis of Western-type culture,” she accused, adding that “we could… only learn about the system-wide practice of shadow banning from a now-leaked voice recording of the Twitter CEO [Jack Dorsey].”

The Hungarian stateswoman linked to two recordings shared by James O’Keefe and his Project Veritas organisation to back up her allegations:

“To reduce their reach, Facebook also limits the visibility of Christian, conservative, right-wing opinions,” the justice minister continued, pledging to convene an “extraordinary meeting of the Digital Freedom Committee” in order to tackle such “systemic abuses”.

“I will also consult with the President of the Hungarian Competition Authority on the possibility of sanctioning unfair commercial practices,” she warned.

The Hungarian move against the increasingly censorious — and politically partial — companies which control a broad swathe of the public discourse through their ownership of key social media platforms follows a particularly aggressive move against tech censorship by the Polish government, which operates according to broadly similar principles and often co-operates with Budapest in international fora.

Polish justice minister Zbigniew Ziobro and deputy justice minister Sebastian Kaleta have unveiled a draft law which will empower a new Free Speech Board to hear appeals from social media users who believe they have been banned or had their content removed from social media platforms, and to order those platforms to reinstate them if the speech they were punished for was lawful under the Polish constitution.

Tech corporations which do not comply will be subject to fines of up to 50 million złoty (roughly £9.8m or $13.3m).

The legislation, thought to have been driven by Kaleta, began to be drawn up after the Polish government grew concerned at Facebook removing censoring certain Christian pages, but gained new impetus after Twitter, Facebook, and other Big Tech companies moved to banish U.S. President Donald Trump from their platforms in recent weeks, with Apple, Google, and Amazon wiping the free speech oriented alternative Parler off the internet shortly thereafter.

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