Turkey’s President Erdogan vows to bring a draft bill to parliament to block/regulate social media platforms like Twitter, YouTube, Netflix which he says are becoming ‘unchecked tools for smear campaigns, libel and lies in Turkey.
Recently Twitter has disclosed/ suspended over 7000 state-linked Turkish accounts for spreading propaganda & disinformation. The President’s communications director had slammed the decision calling it “an arbitrary act, hidden behind the smokescreen of transparency and freedom of expression”
Erdogan now reasons that such bans should proceed after he said his family was insulted online. Finance Minister Berat Albayrak, Erdogan’s son-in-law, said on Twitter on Tuesday that his fourth child had been born. Following the tweet, some users insulted Albayrak’s wife Esra.
Users of 11 out of 19 accounts determined to have shared content that insulted Albayrak and his family were detained, Turkish police headquarters said in a statement on Wednesday.
President and AKP Chair Erdogan had a YouTube live stream with the youth on late Friday, June 26; a day before the university entrance exams on the weekend, to speak with them on the country’s education system and wish them success.
However, many of the 2.4 million students who would enter the exam were already angry that it was not postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Believing that the Minister of Culture and Tourism, who owns one of the largest tourism companies in the country, pressurized the government to hold the exams as scheduled, they launched a campaign to downvote the ETSTur on Google play. The company’s score dropped from 4.1 to 1.1 within a few days. Reactions continued during Erdogan’s live stream as many users sent the “No votes” message. Those who graduated from high school this year will cast votes for the first time in the 2023 presidential election, where the number of new voters will be as high as seven million.
Amid overwhelming reactions, Erdogan’s channel had to close live chat during the broadcast, which led the youth to bring the “No votes” message to Twitter. The #Oymoyyok tag was trending in Turkey all along the night.
Seven hours after the stream, the video was viewed 367,671 times and was disliked by 212,000 users while 36,000 liked the video.
Speaking to members of his AKP, Erdogan repeated that his party would introduce new regulations to control the use of social media, adding that an increase of “immoral acts” on the platforms in recent years was due to a lack of regulations.
“These platforms do not suit this nation. We want to shut down, control (them) by bringing (a bill) to parliament as soon as possible,” he said.
He said social media companies would be forced to appoint representatives in Turkey to respond to legal requests, which he said were currently ignored.
“We are determined to do whatever is necessary for social media platforms to set up fiscal and legal representation in our country. We will implement access ban, legal and fiscal penalties after completion of the regulation,” Erdogan said.
In April, the AKP included similar measures on social media in a draft law mainly about economic measures against the coronavirus outbreak. The draft law required companies to appoint representatives or have their bandwidth slashed by up to 95%, which would effectively make them inaccessible.
The measures were later removed from the draft law but opposition members said they would come back on the agenda.
Yet, there is control over social media in Turkey already. Ankara strictly polices social media content, especially during periods such as military operations and the current coronavirus pandemic.