Turkey declares war on largest social media companies

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Turkey’s slide into authoritarianism continues. For the latest example of what’s happening in that nation, consider what the country is about to require social media companies to do.

According to the Guardian,

The new legislation compels social media companies with more than a million daily users in Turkey – such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Google – to establish a formal presence in the country by opening an office or assigning an in-country representative who is accountable to the Turkish authorities, both legally and for tax purposes.

Companies or their representatives are then required to respond within 48 hours to complaints about posts that “violate personal and privacy rights”, and international companies would be required to store user data inside Turkey.

If the social media giants do not comply six months after the law goes into effect on Thursday (1 October), Turkish authorities will be able to ban advertising on the platforms, levy steep fines of up to £4m and throttle the sites’ bandwidth by up to 90%, effectively making them unusable.

The law also allows courts to order Turkish news websites to remove content within 24 hours, which would allow the government to comb through old stories to erase anything unfavourable.

This is but one example of what happens to freedom of speech when authoritarian leaders alter the rule of law. It can happen elsewhere.

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