May 12 2018

Turkish internet censor warns Twitter over hashtags

The president of Turkey’s Information Technologies and Communication Council, which is responsible for internet censorship in the country, has sent a warning to Twitter after an anti-government hashtag got over a million tweets earlier this week, nationalist newspaper Yeniçağ said.

“At present we are only giving a warning on the topic of disinformation,” Ömer Fatih Sayan said. “The Supreme Electoral Council (YSK) is responsible for carrying out the election process. If the YSK decides (to ban Twitter) we will technically implement it.”

Twitter would do well to achieve the levels of transparency and information sharing with the government of Facebook, Sayan said.

“Twitter is knowingly escaping (government oversight). They are allowing manipulation through bot accounts.”

Sayan said that six times as many tweets in recent hashtag campaigns had been sent from the United States as from Turkey, an incorrect statement apparently stemming from a tweet geolocation website’s inability to cope with the spacing in the anti-government keyword "enough" (“T A M A M”).

“This highlights a serious degree of professional manipulation,” Sayan said. “Blocking (Twitter) is something we can technically do, but we do not want this to be in the foreground. This is something they do in order to get such a reaction."

Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu, in a statement on Friday, also sent a warning to users of social media.

“Our units will be on duty establishing security in the digital realm… in particular, our cybercrimes team will be following terror organisation propaganda or other sorts of provocation on social media,” he said.

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