Commentary

Twitter, Facebook Rebuff Turkish Government

The world’s leading social networks are taking a stand -- at least for the time being -- in favor of privacy and free speech, according to news reports saying Facebook and Twitter have both rejected requests from the Turkish government to help it track down social media users accused of spreading slander and fomenting rebellion in the recent protests. The government has already arrested dozens of people for allegedly spreading misinformation and making “libelous” comments on Twitter, as well as “inciting rebellion.”

 

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Facebook released an official statement reading, in part: “Facebook has not provided user data to Turkish authorities in response to government requests relating to the protests. More generally, we reject all government data requests from Turkish authorities and push them to formal legal channels unless it appears that there is an immediate threat to life or a child.” The statement added: “We are concerned about legislative proposals that might purport to require Internet companies to provide user information to Turkish law enforcement authorities more frequently.”

 

The Anadolu Agency quoted Binali Yldrm, Turkey’s Minister of Transport, Maritime Affairs and Communications, as saying that Twitter was also refusing to cooperate with the Turkish government in its efforts to uncover social media users.

 

Meanwhile Reuters reports that the Turkish government is demanding Twitter establish a corporate presence within Turkey, so Turkish officials have someone to turn to with requests for information -- a move that would also give the government more leverage over the social platform. Previously the Turkish government banned YouTube for a period of two years, until the video-sharing site agreed to establish a corporate presence in Turkey.

 

Last week Turkish officials revealed plans to ban “fake” social media accounts. Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag claimed that hundreds of thousands of fake social media accounts have been used to spread “lies” and “slander” and incite hatred, and warned: “The opening of fake accounts by individuals will be prevented. Slander is a crime under law whether it comes from Twitter, Facebook, news websites, television or from the squares… If someone opens an account, everybody will know who it is.” Muammer Guler, a member of prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling AK party, vowed: “Those who manipulate public opinion and guide demonstrations on Twitter and Facebook will be revealed.” 

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