Hungary Fines Facebook for Claiming Services Are ‘Free’

Facebook shares sink on perfect storm of bad news

Ad-based social media platforms like Facebook and Google have long pretended that their services are “free” for users. In reality, users pay for those services with their personal data, which allows the tech giants to sell ads that a micro-targeted to your preferences.

One country that appears to have had enough of this is Hungary, which has targeted Facebook over the claim, calling it false advertising. The country’s competition watchdog just fined Facebook $4 million for false advertising.

This is a drop in the bucket for Facebook, which posted annual revenues of $55 billion in 2018. However, as reported by Bloomberg, it is the highest fine ever levied by the relatively small central European country for a violation of consumer rights.

According to Bloomberg, the Hungarian watchdog based its fine on misleading statements on Facebook’s website that existed from 2010 to October 2019, which were later changed due to pressure from European Union regulators.

The Hungarian government has become increasingly vocal in its criticism of Silicon Valley tech giants. In May, the government attacked Facebook for its decision to censor a media group that supports Viktor Orban’s political party, Fidesz.

And in August, the central European country launched an investigation into the censorship of political views on social media. In its anti-censorship stance, Hungary and its nationalist-populist government have taken a sharply different approach to other European nations, like France and Germany, that have called for more Silicon Valley censorship and not less.

Are you an insider at Google, Facebook, Twitter or any other tech company who wants to confidentially reveal wrongdoing or political bias at your company? Reach out to Allum Bokhari at his secure email address

Allum Bokhari is the senior technology correspondent at Breitbart News.


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