Turkish lawmakers are shown in January at the country’s parliament in Ankara. (Mustafa Kaya/Xinhua/zhengsiyuan via Getty Images)

Turkey Passes Bill Regulating Social Media in Country

After barely a day of debate, Turkey’s parliament on Wednesday enacted new legislation that will force foreign social media platforms to retain Turkish representatives whose job will be to make sure the platforms block material critical of Ankara’s policies. The bill, which was backed by the ruling AK Party of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, was blasted by critics who said it smacked of censorship and would help the increasingly authoritarian president extend his control over media outlets. Under the new law, foreign social media platforms that refuse to comply can have the vast majority of their local bandwidth reduced in addition to having Turkish advertising blocked. There could also be stiff fines. Beyond criticism of their policies, Erdogan and his allies have often been miffed by what they see as personal insults against them that proliferate on social media. Twitter has said that in 2019, Turkey was the second-most litigious country against content that appeared on its platform. After the bill was proposed, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said through a spokesperson that, if passed, it “would give the state powerful tools for asserting even more control over the media landscape.”

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