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Verhofstadt calls on Facebook to remove 'false video' after Euronews debunk

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Guy Verhofstadt
Guy Verhofstadt -
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Claude TRUONG-NGOC
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European lawmaker Guy Verhofstadt wrote to Facebook on Tuesday calling on the platform to remove a "false news video, sponsored by the Hungarian Government" that was viewed by millions after Euronews debunked it.

"I have reported this video, as it clearly misrepresents a statement I gave on migration in 2014," Verhofstadt wrote in his letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

Verhofstadt cited Euronews' work in making viewers aware of how his statement was manipulated.

"Euronews examined the video clip in detail already when it first appeared on your platform in October and concluded that besides being misleading, it was also made with the intention to incite hatred against migrants.

"Signing up to European standards on policing hate speech and disinformation campaigns, as you have done with the EU Code of Practice on Disinformation, means taking action when it is needed," he added.

What was in the video?

The video, released in mid-October, took aim at Verhofstadt, an MEP from the ALDE liberal group, and his views on migration.

It accused the MEP of being reckless over supporting "more migration" in the EU and featured a clip of Verhofstadt saying: "We need migration."

The video suggested immigration over the past few years was to blame for terror attacks and a rise in violent crime in Europe.

But Euronews proved that the clip was taken from a 2014 interview in which the MEP said: "We need migration but we need legal migration. For the moment, we have the opposite. We have illegal immigration and human trafficking."

Propaganda on Facebook 'destroying our democracies'

Verhofstadt called on Facebook to "address the issue immediately" by removing the video from the platform.

He also called for the platform to show the Euronews debunk video "to every Facebook user who has been shown the Hungarian Government's sponsored ad so that they are informed in a balanced and factual manner."

"I have said this before and I will repeat it here, the unchecked dissemination of targeted propaganda like this on Facebook is destroying our democracies and societies.

Euronews have reached out to Facebook for comment.

Verhofstadt vs Fidesz

There is no lost love between Verhofstadt and the Hungarian government, led by Viktor Orban's Fidesz party.

The two sides have clashed numerous times over the best way to tackle the migrant and refugee crisis.

Orban, who was re-elected for a third consecutive term in April, has been a virulent opponent of EU refugee settlement quotas. His country has also been rebuked by a top EU court for denying food to asylum seekers.

Verhofstadt has also called on the European People’s Party — a EU Parliament grouping of centre-right and right-wing political parties — to throw Orban’s Fidesz party out, arguing it does not share core EU values.

They recently took their enmity off-line by paying for trucks carrying billboards denouncing each other’s politics to roam the streets of Budapest and Brussels.