Yesterday morning, the Hungarian Government's official @abouthungary Twitter account went dark for a couple of hours without any warning or explanation. During this time, the following notice appeared on our feed: “Twitter suspends accounts which violate the Twitter rules,” giving the false impression that About Hungary had done something wrong.
The Twitter page was completely offline for a little more than an hour, only to be restored for another hour or so with zero followers.
1/2 The official account of the Hungarian Government, @AboutHungary, has been suspended by @Twitter without any warning or explanation. This is extremely interesting in view of the fact that the @EU_Commission will publish its first rule of law report today. It seems that...— Zoltan Kovacs (@zoltanspox) September 30, 2020
I immediately took the necessary steps to get our account back online. I also requested an official explanation from Twitter. Read the text of my letter here.
As of this writing, I have received no response. Late Wednesday afternoon, I learned that Twitter had reportedly responded to a query from left-liberal Hungarian weekly HVG with the following statement:
“The suspension of the [About Hungary] account happened by mistake and has since been restored accordingly.”
Well, thank you. Then I guess we can consider About Hungary to be among the more fortunate accounts, as another official account, trade and investment news portal Hungarian Insider was suspended at the same time and has yet to be restored. Just as in the case of About Hungary, no explanation or warning was given.
This wave of suspensions, however, is just the latest example of Twitter silencing media outlets that cover Central Europe. For over two months now, the Twitter account of the influential Polish, right-wing publication Poland Daily has been suspended, alongside pages of the “Based” movement, associated with popular, conservative commentator Adam Starzyński, also out of Poland.
Sadly, what we are seeing is an emerging pattern from Big Tech, like Twitter, limiting the freedom of expression of dissenting voices around the world. And while this time they claimed it was all “by mistake,” who can guarantee it won’t happen again?
I sincerely hope that Twitter will offer some kind of explanation.