ISTANBUL: Turkey on Thursday enters a new era of tight social media restrictions that threaten to erase the local presence of Facebook and Twitter should they fail to take down contentious posts.
The legislation was rammed through parliament by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling AKP party and follows the government’s crackdown on opposition newspapers and television channels.
Facebook’s human rights officer Iain Levine tweeted that it “raises many concerns (about) human rights”.
But while fearful, free speech advocates are not certain whether Erdogan’s government will be able to implement the law’s most punitive measures — or if social media companies will ever fully comply.
“We believe that these days it’s really impossible in a country like Turkey to suppress social media — it is so much a part of people’s lives,” said Emma Sinclair-Webb, the Turkey director of Human Rights Watch.
Under the new rules, platforms with more than one million daily users must open offices in Turkey that can deal with local court decisions to remove offending content within 48 hours.
If not, they face advertising bans, fines of up to 40 million Turkish lira ($5.1 million), and — crucially — bandwidth reductions of up to 90 percent, making the platforms effectively unusable.
They also require social media companies to “take necessary measures” to store user data locally, although binding legislation to that effect was taken out of the final version of the draft law passed in July.