Turkey on Tuesday hit Twitter, Pinterest, and Periscope with advertising bans after they failed to follow Facebook and appoint a local representative to take down contentious posts under new media law.
Defenders of freedom of expression warn the legislation is part of the effort of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to regulate social media and to avoid any opposition against his regime.
The social media law passed last year meant that networks with more than a million subscribers had to appoint an ambassador within 48 hours to handle court requests to delete offending posts.
Ankara is “determined to do whatever is necessary to protect our people’s data, privacy and rights,” Sayan added.
“We will never allow digital fascism and rule-breaking to dominate in Turkey,” he said.
If the networks continue to violate the rule, in April, Turkey will slash its bandwith by 50 percent, then by May by 90 percent, leaving it essentially unavailable.
Some websites, including Facebook and Twitter, that failed to comply with the first deadline last November have faced millions of dollars in fines.
Facebook said it would name a local ambassador on Monday, but admitted “how essential it is for our platform to be a place where users can exercise their freedom of speech.”
In enforcement, it joins YouTube, TikTok and Dailymotion, attracting outrage from activists. In November, Facebook’s Russian counterpart, VK, opened a local office.
Milena Buyum, Amnesty International’s Turkey campaigner, said Monday that “Facebook’s decision leaves them – and Google, Youtube and others – in serious danger of becoming an instrument of state censorship”.
Research shows that as Erdogan’s grip on mainstream media tightened, especially since he survived a failed coup in 2016, younger people have sought information online, especially on social media.
Although Turkey named Periscope in the decisions, Twitter last month said its mobile app for live streaming video will shut down by March as usage declined.
The “cyber world… has become a threat to humanity”, Erdogan warned last week, promising commitment to a “cyber homeland” as part of Turkey’s defence.
“Those who control data can establish their digital dictatorships by disregarding democracy, the law, rights and freedoms,” the president added.