Based on a report about the Computational Propaganda Project running at Oxford University, the Hungarian government also tries to manipulate social media. PM Orbán’s cabinet concentrates mostly on Facebook.
Internet propaganda made by automated bots and paid humans is not unknown in most of the countries. Of course, governments try to manipulate public opinion in favour of their policies and aim to oppress opposition voices. This year’s report of the Computational Propaganda Project running at Oxford University is dealing with the Hungarian government’s relevant activities concentrating on Facebook – index.hu reported.
Samantha Bradshaw and Phillip Howard, researchers of the Internet Institute of the Oxford University
found evidence in 70 countries
that governments, government agencies or parties manipulate social media in their favour and this year is the first that Hungary is among the analysed countries. Last year this number was only 48 while in 2017, only 28. The whole report can be read HERE.
Out of the 70, 26 countries are dictatorships in which even fundamental human rights are violated. Seven countries maintain a very sophisticated propaganda system by which they try to manipulate Internet users of other countries: Russia, China, Pakistan, India, Iran, Saudi-Arabia and Venezuela.
Until recently, they found that China rarely used social media to manipulate public opinion in other countries. The audience for computational propaganda has mainly focused on domestic platforms, such as Weibo, WeChat, and QQ. However, in 2019
Chinese government began to employ global social media platforms
to paint Hong Kong’s democracy advocates as violent radicals and the country is also turning to these technologies as a tool of geopolitical power and influence
The majority of the analysed countries (56) are only or mostly active on Facebook, including the Hungarian government. Researchers of Oxford could prove in the case of 44 countries that their governments (or different agencies of the governments) were behind Internet propaganda campaigns. In the case of 45 states, candidates or parties manipulated the social media, for example, by buying fake followers which, otherwise, is very typical even in democracies like the USA, Australia or the Netherlands.
In the case of Hungary, they could prove only that some
government agencies are behind social media manipulation campaigns.
Index.hu added that in Hungary, it is tough to distinguish between government and Fidesz communication campaigns even in the traditional media, and we do not know how the Oxford researchers calculated this factor.
The Hungarian government uses not only automated bots but also paid humans (trolls) to transmit the misleading messages which are very typical in other countries, as well. Bots mimic human behaviour, and that is how they take part in the conversation of the users.
social media trolls are used for five different aims:
to spread government messages, to attack the opposition, to distract conversations from the critical issues, to deepen social divisions and to abuse and discourage opposition users. According to the report, the Hungarian government does all of these. Therefore, trolls make misleading content (memes, videos, blog posts), they share the government’s messages and attack those who think differently – like in many other countries.
For sure, it can be stated that the Hungarian trolls are not as organised as the ones in, e.g. Russia.
Read HERE what the American Freedom House thinks about the freedom of the Internet in Hungary. If you want to read about why Microsoft had to pay 25.2 million USD because of their Hungarian corruption case in which even government officials were involved, click HERE.