The usage of fake Facebook accounts to smear the other side is not unheard of. But for a reigning mayor to threaten with this method on camera is a brand new level of stupid.
Using fake Facebook accounts to smear opposition figures is a tried-and-tested method. It is just not evenly punished.
It is now a thing in Hungary that supposed concerned citizens make a comment accusing civilians or opposition politicians – the OfFidesz and official state media then uses these comments to present the accusations to the broader public.
If anyone, on the other hand, as much as questions a Fidesz politician – let alone accuses them of wrongdoing – on social media, they get investigated so hard you might mistakenly believe that such cases are always strictly investigated. Actual citizens and hundreds of Facebook accounts being slapped with subpoenas is a routine thing when they speak up against a Fidesz politician, or a development done by a Fidesz crony. But when the shoe is on the other foot these comments are cherished and treasured.
The Fidesz mayor of Bátonyterenye, a small Hungarian town, went on camera in 2016 threatening his opposition to start leaking files on them via fake Facebook accounts. Not only that, but he did this in an unprovoked rant, and posted online for good measure.
“Believe me, I have ammunition against every single on of them. We can do this if you want. We have fake Facebook accounts, just like they do, but I personally prefer to do it with my own face. Let’s burn the town down, if you want.”
If you think it sounds like he was just threatened with something against him being made public, so do I. But we will never know. All we know is that this mayor has quite the temper for a political figure. Also, not much of a sense of what is legal and what is not.
You must forgive him though, it is very hard to tell these days, as legality also de facto depends on who is doing something. As long as the prosecutors’ office won’t bring a single case against Orbán loyalists, no matter how severe and well-documented the crime, it is easy to forget that using fake Facebook accounts to leak dirt about other people is a naughty thing, even if they are just political dissidents.
If you are OfFidesz, the only law you must obey is the political will from above. When you don’t get explicit orders, you try to second guess it. And if you get it wrong (or if you record yourself doing something criminal and post it), you still get protected because no consequence must come to someone OfFidesz and no effort of the remaining, stubborn opposition must ever have an impact.
This mayor must also be forgiven for thinking that he was in the clear to say these things on camera, because it is also known that cases aren’t brought against them, not even when they admit to it themselves, and not even when they admit it on camera and post the whole thing on the internet, for good measure. Not even when the European and American authorities clearly document their corruption. The prosecutors won’t even launch a mock investigation. (No wonder judges quit. They may be able to rule without too much political pressure, but they have to watch how Fidesz politicians are getting away with anything and never see a courtroom from the inside.)
And thirdly, this mayor is not wrong to do so because is more aware than anyone that OfFidesz figures get forcefully protected by the system, even if they are politicians who shut a gypsy in an industrial incinerator and throw a match after him, joking that it’s because the gypsy upset them. If anything, these dicks get rewarded because precedent must be made that not even your inconsequential public outrage can ever shake a Fidesznik, the system renders anti-Fidesz outrage as toothless as any other thing an opposition person can come up with, including legal action, appeals to the public or boycotting Fidesz.
And this mayor had proved right when he received the knighthood of the country from the president on August 20.
Featured image: screenprint by 444.hu