Turkey’s Erdoğan calls social media a rubbish heap

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Monday called social media a rubbish heap, signalling further government interventions on popular internet platforms that have become main sources of information for people in Turkey, Turkish daily Diken reported.

“Social media has become a rubbish heap, a completely errant form of media. We won’t allow this,” the Turkish leader said at the inauguration of a national computer emergency response centre.

Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) government is viewed by many observers as having a symbiotic relationship with mainstream media outlets, most owners of which adjust their outlets’ stances in line with that of the government to ensure their wider business interests do not suffer.

But the president’s difficult relationship with social media sites is well known. Erdoğan’s governments have blocked or banned important social media sites, including YouTube, Twitter and Wikipedia, for extended periods.

In 2014, the AKP government introduced new regulations allowing the government to block websites without a court order, and in 2018 it introduced a new law granting the country’s broadcast monitoring agency the authority to monitor and regulate internet broadcasts.

Thousands of Turks have faced investigation or criminal charges for social media posts that authorities say contained insults to state officials, terrorist propaganda or manipulative information that aimed to harm Turkey’s economy. Critics of the Turkish government say it is cracking down on social media users to quash dissent.

Erdoğan said internet users were becoming likes slaves, calling them dependent on technology, and said responsible use of the internet was becoming ever more important.

He added that Turkey was also in danger of cyber attacks from foreign countries and said it needed to develop new systems to ensure its security.