BUDAPEST — Facebook has removed a controversial Hungarian government video which claimed that “white Christians” are gone from parts of Vienna and the same could happen in Hungary.
János Lázár, whose title is minister of the prime minister’s office, posted the video on his official Facebook page late Tuesday, weeks ahead of the country’s April 8 election.
The short clip alternates between shots of the minister talking on a Vienna street and footage of women with headscarves and young children walking by.
“In Vienna there are lots of schools where there are no longer white Viennese children, only Muslim immigrants,” Lázár said in the video, which can also be found here.
“The white Austrian Christians moved out and immigrants took over this part of the city,” the minister added, accusing immigrants of making the neighborhood dirty and filled with crime, and causing local resident to live in fear. The minister warned that Budapest may experience the same problems if immigration is not stopped.
In a Facebook post Wednesday morning, Lázár demanded that Facebook reinstate the video, arguing that its removal violated freedom of speech and expression.
He included a screenshot of the message he had received from Facebook informing him that his original post appeared to have violated community standards and that the company removes content that attacks individuals based on race, ethnicity, nationality, religion, sexual orientation, gender or disability.
The incident underscores challenges facing Facebook as it comes under growing pressure to police its own platform.
The social media giant has its own policies for removing offensive or obscene content, but it now has to grapple with European guidelines on removing misinformation and illegal content — which is especially trying during election periods when politicians may accuse the platform of censorship.
The European Commission has published guidelines calling for illegal content to be removed from social media sites promptly, while French President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist party has written a draft bill that would create a “duty to cooperate” for social media platforms.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán is focusing his re-election platform heavily on opposition to immigration, and has run a campaign at home accusing Brussels and Hungarian-born U.S. financier George Soros of trying to force Hungary to take in migrants.