Hungarians in Transylvania decry Facebook’s move to abolish Hungarian town names

editor: REMIX NEWS
author: Zoltán Veczán

A group of Transylvanian Facebook users are up in arms about the latest update of Facebook’s algorithm which automatically changes the name of their place of residence from Hungarian to Romanian, Hungarian daily Magyar Hírlap reports.

Users of a local group in the central Transylvanian town of Marosvásárhely (Târgu Mureș in Romanian) began noticing that they could no longer enter  the Hungarian name of the town as their place of residence, as Facebook would automatically show the Romanian version.

The issue of minority rights, including minorities’ right to use their mother tongue, has been a recurring complaint of the 1.5 million ethnic Hungarians living in Transylvania. The territory was handed over to Romania after World War I and at the time Romania pledged to respect minority rights, but the reality was very different. The situation took a turn for the worse during the era of communist dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu, who ruled between 1965-1989, and who forced the Hungarian minority to lose some of its key rights, such as the carving up of the previous Maros autonomous region into three counties.

Authorities at the time also began to sometimes haphazardly rename Hungarian settlements, giving them a Romanian equivalent that had no historic foundation or even bearing to the place’s original name.

After the 1989 regime change, the Hungarian minority eventually won a long fight and the local administration law passed in 2000 made it compulsory for town with a minority population of 20 percent or more to have signs also be displayed in the language of minorities. Towns with smaller minority populations can also choose to display signs in minority languages at the discretion of local councils.


This in turn has led to the recurring phenomenon of Romanian nationalists regularly defacing town signs, usually by crossing the Hungarian part with red spray paint. Despite numerous complaints to police, Romanian authorities seldom find the perpetrators.

Hungarian newspaper Magyar Hírlap wrote to Facebook, inquiring why the social media platform made the change, despite a series of international charters, U.N. and European Union agreements granting the right for using ethnic settlement names. Magyar Hirlap said the article will be updated if and when Facebook replies. 


tend: 1695336600.6421