The opposition Democratic Coalition (DK) on Thursday accused the government of laying the groundwork for censoring Facebook, citing a paper published on the website of the Századvég Foundation, a think-tank that DK says is close to the ruling Fidesz party.
At a press conference on Thursday, the leftist party’s spokesman Sándor Rónai said social media was the last platform in Hungary free from government control.
Századvég, which the DK politician referred to as “the government’s cash register”, now proposed several measures to curb activities on Facebook.
Századvég published a document on April 3 that suggested that nation states should extend state jurisdiction and constitutional rules to cover social media, which should be “categorised as traditional mass media” and regulated accordingly, Rónai said.
The foundation also proposed firmer legal steps against “self-appointed censors” who aim to curb the freedom of speech and opinion, he added.
Should the government try to curb the social media site’s activities, demonstrations on the scale of the 2014 protests against the “internet tax” could ensue, Rónai insisted.
The Századvég essay authored by Gábor Megadja, Zoltan Balázs Beky and József György Horváth is entitled “Századvég’s proposals against Facebook censorship”.
Századvég cites an op-ed in The Washington Post by Facebook’s founder and head, Mark Zuckerberg, as saying that governments should regulate and control the internet because monitoring and filtering malicious content was too onerous a task for Facebook alone. It further noted that the Századvég Foundation had been investigating the issue of “Facebook censorship” and “freedom of expression in general”. At first glance, Zuckerberg was exhibiting “naive goodwill”, Századvég’s paper said, adding that the foundation was proposing various measures that would genuinely guarantee freedom protections.
Századvég further said that nations “have the right to protect freedom” and it proposed various related measures including: regulate social media in the same way as traditional mass media; introduce antitrust measures to split up monopoly providers; extend the constitutional rules of nations states to cover the sphere of social media activity; and institute stronger legal means to counter the external constraints of constitutional rights of freedom of expression and opinion against self-proclaimed censors.