Turkey will not bow to ‘cyber dictatorship’ of social media companies - Erdoğan

Turkey will not bow to pressures by social media companies, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Monday, accusing the platforms of "cyber dictatorship’’ and seeing themselves as " above the law.’’

Social media companies have failed to apply almost all Turkish court decisions regarding accounts that praise terror and violence, while exerting no effort to address the victimization of those targeted on social media, T24 news site cited Erdoğan as saying while speaking at a media awards event in Ankara. 

"The Turkish government will not all allow for terror propaganda in the cyber world, just as it does not allow for terorrism within the country’s borders,’’ Erdoğan said.

The Turkish president said social media companies had become obedient after being fined by Turkey over their failure to comply with a social media law passed this summer.

"See how obedient they have become now that fines are being handed out?’’ Erdoğan asked. "You are going to pay (fines here), just as you do in the West.’’

In November, Turkey fined global companies including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube 10 million lira ($1.18 million) each for breaching a new law. 

The law calls for platforms with more than one million daily users in Turkey to appoint a representative accountable to Turkish courts, who will abide by orders to remove  content deemed offensive within 48 hours and store user data inside Turkey.

Erdoğan said that Turkey had been subject to arbitrary practices by social media companies since the 2013 Gezi protests.

"At the point we have arrived at (today), we better understand the importance of legal battle we have waged against digital dictatorship and cyber bullying,’’ the Turkish president said while commenting on Twitter and Facebook's decision to lock the accounts of U.S. President Donald Trump.

Erdoğan’s remarks arrive a day after Twitter’s latest Transparency Report.

The report, which covers the period from Jan.-June 2020, said Turkey led the way in Twitter censorship in numerous categories, maintaining the highest number of third-party takedown requests, court orders and accounts and tweets withheld, among others.