On December 6, St. Nicholas Day, a curious social network resembling a pale copy of Facebook arrived on the Magyar web. At first glance, Hundub blatantly pumps Zuckerberg’s platform. Each subscriber can search for his old friends, share photos, post videos and chat via instant messaging furiously reminiscent of the Messenger tool. Yes, but here it is, on Hundub, alternative to the American giant, certified “Hungarian” and “Without censorship”, a gift point system rewards frequent users based on likes, reactions and posts.
The interface of the Hungarian social network, visually very similar to that of Facebook. | Hundub screenshot
After a random draw carried out once a month under the supervision of a bailiff, you may win a Samsung smartphone or an iPhone (20,000-40,000 points), a trip for two abroad (80,000-100,000) or a world tour on a luxury boat with more than 100,000 units accumulated. Another specificity: an emoji “Big Brother would surely ban” cut out for informed conspirators. “No one will be blocked or deleted because of their political views. We will not seek to create trends or influence anyone in anything ”, clame Csaba Pál, Hundub’s father.
Almost 40,000 people have registered, including Prime Minister Viktor Orbán himself, with its own official page. Some detractors of Hundub see behind this launch a maneuver by the government, slayer of political correctness, in view of the legislative elections of 2022. “We are not supported by Orbán, nor by Soros, [le milliardaire américano-magyar devenu bête noire de Budapest, ndlr], retort its founders. “We are Hungarian civilians who do not want to become celebrities but do everything so that a Hungarian social network can exist.”
The official account of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán. | Hundub screenshot
Guy Fawkes > Bill Gates
If you lack the inspiration to choose a profile picture, don’t panic, Hundub will automatically add a stylized mask of Guy Fawkes, an icon of Anonymous and conspirators. From the outset, the network advises you to follow the pages of Vilaghelyzete.com and Alternativhirek.com, bottom-up fake news. On the line of Alternativ Hírek, we discover, oh surprise, articles accusing the laboratories developing anti-Covid vaccines of being the puppets of Bill Gates or considering the last US election as the “Biggest electoral fraud in world history”.
On Alternativ Hírek, a conspiratorial article linking Bill Gates and anti-Covid vaccines. An emoji-reaction “Big Brother would surely ban” is offered to the user. | Hundub screenshot
Defender of an unfiltered freedom of expression and opinion, Hundub covers himself with rather succinct and strangely worded conditions of use which proscribe symbols referring to dictatorships and incitement to commit crimes or offenses, while enjoining its members to avoid the dissemination of violent content and “Spread of sexual activity”. Zero obstacles concerning naked images, as long as the photos are relayed on Hundub with an artistic aim. Zero indication on which person or service monitors compliance with the regulations and how.
“Hundub’s problem isn’t that he’s Hungarian. The problem is that it insults, with its amateurism and simplicity, the notion of “Hungarian product” in this country where we had a creative and modern social network called iWiW even before Mark Zuckerberg entered university., deplores a feather from the weekly HVG. When we know that almost all Hungarian Internet users are active on Facebook, we can decently not take a similar service seriously but worse. Especially since Hundub’s financial framework is just as obscure as its intentions. ”
Cyber attack and Greater Hungary
While Magyar observers ignore Hundub’s real purpose, they nevertheless know that a offshore firm registered in Belize, a renowned Caribbean tax haven, is one of the owners of the site supervised from Debrecen, Hungary’s second largest city. Mysterious foreign investors have also supported the project. At the end of December, three weeks after his baptism of fire, Hundub suffered a major cyberattack questioning his security considered lax according to several specialists. The hackers tried to put the low-cost FB to the mat by organizing 59 million registrations per hour.
Like the late IwiW in his time, Hundub aims to bring together the Magyar speakers of Hungary and the former Magyar territories separated from the “Mother land” speak Treaty of Trianon (June 1920). Not sure that the mayonnaise takes in Austrian Burgenland, in Slovenian Prekmurje, in Ukrainian Zakarpattia, in Serbian Vojvodina, in northern Croatia or in Romanian Transylvania. And this, even if Budapest pampers the Magyar minorities across borders with a plethora of aid, facilitated naturalizations and access to the right to vote just to put them in the pocket.
“There is a rationality behind the launch of a new platform of this type but it will take a lot of work and a real plus to make it profitable in the shadow of the big boys. It is still early to assess this initiative but we can already see that Hundub hardly represents a challenge for Facebook despite the disenchantment of young people., analyzes the expert in social networks, Orsolya Homolya, from Blikk. I do not know the exact intentions of the founders, but it seems that they are counting on a well-defined category given the political coloring of Hundub. “
Reach out to supporters
Clearly, Hundub’s core target leans more towards the far right and Donald Trump’s orphaned national-populists, like Viktor Orbán who hoped for the re-election of his American ally. One of the most supplied Hundub groups is none other than the faithful of Vadhajtások, site of ultranationalist, anti-immigrant, pro-Trump and anti- activists.“LGBT propaganda” bringing together more than 4,500 members on their new favorite agora. Closer to Fidesz, the party of the Prime Minister, a certain “Borsodi” calls for “National union” against “The alliance of scrapings” opposition preparing for the 2022 election.
In the opposition, precisely, the independent deputy Ákos Hadházy considers that “The dirty money of the Orbán clan” feeds Hundub and fears that the executive, cultivating a closeness to Vladimir Putin, will follow the Russian model by shutting down Facebook. While Hundub does nothing to threaten the supremacy of Zuckerberg’s creation, the platform could nonetheless serve as a new channel to reach out to Orbanist supporters and collect their data, undoubtedly valuable in campaign times.
On December 14, the Minister of Justice, Judit Varga, accused Facebook of having made its page less visible after a comment underlining the decisive weight that the Californian mastodon will play in the legislative elections of 2022 in Hungary. Between Christmas and New Year, the President of the National Assembly, László Kőver, estimated that “Considerable forces are going get started in Brussels and the United States in order to influence and manipulate the outcome of the elections ”. However, this did not prevent the ruling Fidesz party from recently opening an Instagram account, owned by Facebook …
Hundub, for its part, expects a million users by the end of 2021. “While the idea of a social network functioning as an alternative to Facebook is by no means evil, Hundub is, in its current form, just a clone ridicule wishing to recruit users by waving the banner of freedom of expression. And, in addition to the carte blanche given to “freedom of expression”, Hundub risks becoming a privileged ground for false information and deception with the support of its administrators.», Asserts a journalist from the 24.hu portal. It’s the least we can say.
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