Hungary considers sanctions for social media firms who suppress free speech

Hungary becomes the latest country to consider punishing social media firms who commit “systematic abuses” of free speech, a government minister has announced.

Justice Minister Judit Varga plans to convene a meeting of the country’s digital freedom committee, as well as liaising with Hungary’s competition watchdog to discuss potential punitive action against Big Tech companies who shadow-ban conservative voices on their platforms.

In a Facebook post, Varga said: “‘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.

“Tech companies thus violate all those fundamental democratic legal norms that form the basis of Western-type culture. We could not only learn about the system-wide practice of shadow banning from a voice recording of the now-leaked Twitter CEO.

“To reduce their reach, Facebook also limits the visibility of Christian, conservative, right-wing opinions. I also have personal experience of that.”

Hungary joins Poland in speaking out against the omnipotence of social media giants to ban individual accounts, coupled with their lack of accountability and regulation.

The Polish government recently proposed a landmark pro-free speech bill which would see social media companies imposed with big fines if they fail to reinstate pulled accounts that are found not to have violated Polish law.

“The owners of corporate giants should not decide which views are right and which are not”, said Poland’s prime minister, Mateusz Morawiecki.

Twitter may have crossed the Rubicon with its permanent suspension of President Trump, leading to many world leaders now favouring greater regulation.

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador recently vowed to submit a proposal on the issue at the next G20 meeting, warning that vague threats of violence and incitement “cannot be used as a pretext to suspend freedom of expression.”