Over 18,000 Turkey citizens faced legal action over social media use in 2018 - ministry

A total of 42,406 social media accounts were investigated and judicial action was taken against 18,376 social media users in Turkey during  2018, Turkish news site Bianet reported, citing a report by the country’s Interior Ministry.

The bulk of judicial action taken against social media users according to the report which was published on Dec. 31, 2018, was due to "conducting propaganda for a terrorist organization, promoting such organizations, declaring affiliation with terrorist organizations, inciting people to enmity and hatred, insulting state officials, threatening the integrity of the state and committing hate speech," the site said.

Ankara has come under fire for its crackdown on news and social media in the aftermath of the July 2016 coup attempt to topple the government of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. The Turkish government accuses the Gülen movement, which it designates as a terrorist organisation, of orchestrating the failed putsch and has arrested tens of thousands of people over links to the group.

Detentions over social media posts in Turkey spiked particularly following the Turkish-led military operation into Syria against a Kurdish militia in January of 2018. A total of 648 people were detained between Jan. 20 and Feb. 26 for social media postings criticizing the operation, according to Human Rights Watch. 

"In 2018, 110,000 social media accounts were investigated, 45,000 social media account users were identified been identified and 7000 of them were forwarded to judicial authorities," it quoted the country’s Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu as saying.