Turkey plans crackdown on social media, 50 million-euro fines

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Wednesday that would press ahead with the government's plans to introduce regulations to control social media platforms or shut them down, after he said his family was insulted online.

The bill stipulates that social media giants like Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok and others must appoint a legal representative in Turkey to whom courts can turn to make requests to remove content or provide the identity of the users, Hürriyet daily said on Thursday.

The requirement would also mean they could be held financially accountable and pay taxes in Turkey.

Erdoğan's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) aims to effectively end anonymity on social media platforms, with the social media sites expected to implement systems to confirm the ID of their users.

As per the bill, these platforms must also keep their Turkish user data in Turkey.

"The information about people who share online content deemed illegal will be provided by the social media platforms in case the court demands it," said Abdulkadir Selvi, a columnist known for his close ties to the AKP.

Meanwhile, the draft law will incur sizeable fines if they fail to comply with Turkish government requests. The bill seeks to impose fines of up to €50 million ($56.4 million) on social media companies that fail to swiftly remove hate speech and other illegal content from their platforms.

Under the proposed law, any illegal content would have to be deleted by the social media companies within 24 hours, similar to German laws on the matter, Hürriyet said.

Erdoğan is seeking the passage of the law to be fast-tracked, effectively before the parliamentary recess on July 15, the anniversary of the failed coup attempt in 2016, according to Selvi.

"The regulation on social media is expected to be brought to the parliament immediately and enacted before July 15," he said.