Social media giants in the spotlight as deadline looms for compliance with Turkish law

As the deadline approaches for social media platforms to appoint a Turkey representative - a requirement placed on companies in accordance with a new law - all eyes have turned to giants such as Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, Linkedin, TikTok, Dailymotion and Periscope.

The Nov. 2 deadline concerns social media platforms with over one million daily users, according to the new social media law, which calls for the companies to also store domestic user data in Turkey while facing fines of up to $1.5 million, as well as bandwidth restrictions and advertising bans, for failure to comply.

Representatives from the abovementioned platforms have taken part in a video conference by Turkey's Information Technology Authority (BTK), that was led by Deputy Minister of Transport and Infrastructure Ömer Fatih Sayan, Hürriyet newspaper reported on Sunday.

But, Hürriyet said, social media platforms that have yet to appoint Turkey representatives are said to be waiting on the outcome of the U.S. presidential election on Nov. 3, as well as an appeal of the law to the Turkish Constitutional Court by main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP).

Meanwhile, the head of Turkey’s media watchdog on Sunday said Turkey maintained good relations with Netflix and believed the company would comply with the new law.

Turkey is ahead of many European countries in terms of its modern regulations in broadcasting, Gerçek Gündem news site cited the Turkish Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK) head Ebubekir Şahin as saying.

"In our discussions we share our red lines,’’ Şahin said. "And they accept most of them. Netflix has noted all of our warnings as of late. For example, we requested a PIN code for adult content and they complied.’’

When social media platforms fail to accept Turkey’s rightful requests, Turkey enacts the power of sanctions, the top RTÜK official added.  

The new social media law has come under criticism for potentially weaponising social media companies against voices critical of the government.

But Turkey’s ruling AKP maintains the bill as an effort to protect approximately 55 million users in the country from what is calls disinformation.

Turkey issues the most requests to have Twitter content removed, and more than 408,000 websites are blocked in the country, according to the Turkish Freedom of Expression Association.

 Online encyclopedia Wikipedia was blocked in Turkey for three years until a ruling by the country's top court said the move constituted a violation of the right to freedom of expression.