As a former member of parliament in Hungary, I know firsthand how the Orbán regime has weaponised media outlets in the country to serve the purpose of government propaganda and its reelection campaigns. Many Europeans have seen the crass billboards attacking European institutions and demonizing refugees.

However, Orbán’s media leverage goes well beyond billboards that your average Hungarian can ignore: most of our principal news publications act as mouthpieces for the government, defaming the opposition or anyone who contradicts government-approved talking points.

I received this treatment myself when I ran for re-election when I had to experience the two very extreme cases of being ignored by the local outlets during my term as if I did not exist or, as the election neared, a full-scale smear campaign that was launched against me with no factual basis.

Only a few independent media outlets remain in Hungary. As a result, Hungarians wishing to speak truth to power have taken to social media sites.

Nowhere else could you even imagine directly messaging and tagging elected officials, organizing protests, and sharing experiences that unearth everyday corruption in Hungary?

The Orbán regime uses social media to its advantage through a network of paid influencers who echo Fidesz’s narrative.

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