Hungary blasts Facebook for 'censorship' of pro-government media group

Budapest (AFP) –


Hungary's government on Thursday accused Facebook of "censorship" of a pro-government media group after it complained its advertising accounts with the social media giant had been closed down.

The group Mediaworks, which controls 90 national and regional publications across the country said on Wednesday that its publicity accounts had been shut on Facebook pages.

Major tech firms like Facebook and Twitter have been introducing new measures for stamping out extremist content and closing down misinformation on the internet, under growing pressure from governments pushing for action.

"What has happened is unacceptable," Gergely Gulyas, an advisor to Prime Minister Viktor Orban, said at a press conference in Budapest referring to Mediaworks.

"We believe freedom of press should prevail on Facebook, unlike the recent censorship."

Since coming into power in 2010, Orban has overhauled the country's public media into a government propaganda organ while allies have steadily bought up swathes of the private media sector, drawing criticism from the EU parliament.

Orban's right-wing government is frequently critical of EU institutions, despite the country being an EU member.

Mediaworks is tied to oligarch Lorinc Meszaros, who is close to Orban and the media group often defends the premier's policies.

"Our official inquiry as for the reason of the ban resulted in no concrete reply," Mediaworks content development director Zsolt Pauska said in a statement. "In light of recent reports about Facebook's plans it is obvious that the decision of the American company is based on political and ideological reasons."