The Hungarian government said it has demanded answers from Twitter after its official account was temporarily suspended on Wednesday “without any warning or explanation”.
A government spokesman portrayed the suspension as an act of censorship against nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s government.
For over an hour any attempt to access the account prompted the message: “User @abouthungary has been suspended.”
The account then re-appeared and posted the message saying it had “apparently been restored — also without explanation”.
Earlier, government spokesman Zoltan Kovacs said on his own Twitter account that “the official account of the Hungarian Government @AboutHungary has been suspended by @Twitter without any warning or explanation”.
“We have taken the necessary steps and are awaiting an official explanation from Twitter,” Kovacs said.
“The beautiful new world has finally arrived, in which tech giants are silencing those who hold different opinions.”
Hungary’s other official social media channels seemed to be operating normally on Wednesday.
This year Twitter has removed or labelled several of United States President Donald Trump’s tweets, citing misinformation.
A Budapest-based news-site Remix News — often linked to the About Hungary social media accounts — was also suspended on Wednesday.
The site curates “news and commentary” from around the “Visegrad 4” group of countries — the Czech Republic, Poland Slovakia, and Hungary — with a focus on articles targeting liberal US billionaire George Soros, migration, and the EU.
During Orban’s decade in power Hungary’s media landscape has been transformed, with public media long a government mouthpiece and most private outlets owned by pro-government allies.
The leading pro-Orban daily Magyar Nemzet attacked Facebook earlier this year for allegedly “censoring” right-wing sites and content.
After the platform decided to appoint an oversight board the paper said that “Soros and his network” was limiting free speech.
Last month the head of Hungary’s data protection agency proposed a law that would allow social media platforms to ban users “only with a compelling reason”, while also enabling Hungarian authorities to review their decisions.
The dwindling number of independent news outlets led media watchdog Reporters Without Borders to downgrade Hungary by 16 points to 89th place in its 2020 World Press Freedom Index.
This month US government-funded broadcaster Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty relaunched a Hungarian-language service for the first time in 27 years citing a “steep decline in media freedom”.