Erdoğan urges companies to ‘voluntarily’ comply with social media law

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Tuesday called on social media companies to comply with the law enacted in the summer, which considerably strengthens authorities' control over the networks, T24 news site reported.

Erdoğan stressed that no company wasabove the law and he hoped social media platforms would voluntarily comply with the government’s requests, without forcing Ankara into "protecting the rights’’ of Turkey’s citizens, in a video message aired at an inauguration ceremony of the TRT World Forum.

Turkey’s social media law, passed in July, requires social media platforms with over one million daily users, including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, to open offices in Turkey while imposing stiff penalties for non-compliance.

“We require social media companies to appoint representatives in our country. We aim to protect our citizens, particularly children, who are more vulnerable than adults,” Erdoğan said. “We hope they voluntarily respond to our request. Otherwise, we will continue to protect the rights of our citizens at all times,” Erdoğan said.

The Turkish government maintains the law is an effort to protect approximately 55 million social media users in the country from what it calls disinformation. But critics have voiced concern that the country’s fewremaining spaces for free public debate could be slipping into Ankara’s grip.

“Unfortunately, serious problems have emerged with the extensive use of social media platforms over the past years. Under the guise of ‘unlimited freedom,’ there are new victimisations taking place through an entirely unsupervised venue,” he added. 

Erdoğan also blasted international media for its coverage of the 2013 Gezi protests.

“Those who caused destruction on the streets were presented as peaceful by international media organisations,” Erdoğan said.

“And then, when the same events took place in various European countries, those who gave us lessons on freedom of press played the three monkeys,” continued the Turkish president, citing international coverage of France’s Yellow Vests protests.