Facebook, Twitter yet to comply with Turkish media law as deadline looms

U.S. tech giants Facebook and Twitter have failed to comply with a social media law requiring them to register offices in Turkey just days before an advertising ban against them is due to come into force, Daily Sabah reported on Sunday.

The social media law, ratified late last year, stipulates that international social media companies must appoint a legal representative in Turkey to whom courts can turn to make requests to remove content or provide the identity of users.

If the firms do not comply with the bill’s requirement by Jan. 19, the government can bar Turkish companies from advertising on the platforms and limit their bandwidths by up to 90 percent, Daily Sabah said.

Turkish companies were estimated to have spent 3.5 billion liras ($468 million) on online advertising in the first half of 2020, the newspaper said, citing the Advertisers Association. The ads, posted mostly on social media, account for 55 percent of the companies’ marketing. The government collects 22.5 percent of advertising spending as tax.

Popular services including video-sharing platforms YouTube and TikTok, as well as employment-based platform LinkedIn have complied with the new law and assigned a representative to the country.

Turkey has already fined media platforms including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram a total of 40 million liras in two rounds of penalties handed out in the second half of 2020, Daily Sabah said.

European Union officials and human rights groups have expressed concern about the law, saying it threatens to further compromise freedom of speech in Turkey and undercut democracy.