11/06/2020 Turkey (International Christian Concern) – The Government of Turkey has fined Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram 10 million lira ($1.18 million) each for not complying with a new social media law that took effect last month. The law places penalties on any refusal by social media companies to take down posts that the government deems offensive. Some worry that this law will give Turkey the ability to crack down on political dissent.
According to the law, social media sites with more than one million Turkish daily users must appoint a representative accountable to Turkish courts, abide by governmental orders to remove “offensive” content within 48 hours, and store user data inside Turkey.
Beginning with fines, the law gives the government the ability to increase penalties up to the cutting of sites’ bandwidth by 90 percent, essentially blocking access to the social media platform altogether. Such a threat leaves the survival of social media sites at the mercy of government censorship.
This law comes just months after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s decision to convert the Hagia Sophia into a mosque, a move that alienated many minority Christians in the country who already face discrimination. The conversion caused many Christians and even liberal Muslims to voice their criticisms on social media sites such as Twitter. The new social media law, passed in July, will most likely adversely affect Christians who post about their faith on these sites along with their dissent of the government.