Turkish president taking on Youtube, Twitter, and Netflix
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has launched a campaign to ban social media in the country – primarily Youtube, Twitter and Netflix – after users on these sites wrote offensive comments about his daughter. This initiative has provoked mass outrage on social media against the president’s actions.
What exactly happened?
President Erdogan has never been a huge supporter of freedom of communication on social media but this time, an unprecedented situation has developed.
On June 30, the president’s son-in-law, Minister of Finance and Treasury Berat Albayrak, tweeted about how happy he was to have his fourth child (Erdogan’s eighth grandson).
Many people congratulated the minister. But quite a few comments were negative and harsh.
For example, one user wrote:
“He’s lucky, he’ll never be hungry, won’t have to look for food in garbage cans, he’ll study in private schools…Happiness, what else can I say…”
By the time this article was published, this tweet had received 3,000 likes.
Another comment reads:
“While the people are grasping their stomachs in hunger, may they live like their father in the palaces, in luxury, amen.”
Among the comments, there were also many that were offensive to the president’s daughter, Esra Albayrak.
She was subjected to an onslaught of sexist messages.
Ban and Imprison
In response, President Erdogan, who is also the head of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), held a video conference with the party leaders in the regions.
He also suggested bringing the issue of exerting full control over social networks to parliament for consideration in the near future.
“We must reign in these sites, full of lies, slander, and attacks on human rights. This proposal must be urgently submitted to parliament, and we must ask to either completely eliminate these social networks, or bring them under control,” said Erdogan.
Erdogan’s wrath led various social networks, including Youtube and Twitter to be banned in Turkey, but have already been unblocked.
Most recently, the ban was lifted from the last such “offending” platform: Wikipedia.
But Erdogan’s plea to parliament did not stop there.
Erdogan said that actions that are considered illegal in real life should be punished when committed in virtual space.
As a result, Turkey has been detaining social media commenters since July 2.
As of July 4, at least 16 people have been detained. Two more have been arrested after being sentenced by the court. Four people on the list ended up being abroad, and another 15 people were put on the wanted list.
The opposition is outraged by both the comments and reaction of the president
The public supports the idea of punishing those who insulted the Albayrak family. But Erdogan’s decision to ban social media caused outrage.
Erdogan’s main rival in the previous presidential election from the Republican People’s Party, Muharrem Ince, condemned those who wrote offensive comments and called the incident immoral:
“We must oppose such attacks regardless of [to whom they are addressed]. We must condemn this action, and punish those who do this,” Ince wrote on his Twitter account.
This post received almost 64,000 likes in two days.
“I didn’t write anything, why should my social media accounts be blocked?”
A protest campaign began on Twitter with the hashtag #SosyalMedyamaDokunma (Do not touch my social networks).
Hundreds of thousands of posts have already been posted under this hashtag.
“The fact that in 2020, banning social media is on the docket for consideration is just a joke,” wrote one user with the screen name Büş.
Ali Babacan, chairman of the Deva (Salvation) opposition party, writes that banning and restricting social networks will lead Turkey to shut itself off from the world and reduce the freedom in the country.
There are those who reacted to the issue with irony. The chairman of another opposition party, İyi (Good), Meral Akshener wrote:
“Dear Erdogan, I’ll be quite upset if you ban Netflix before the last season of the Dark ends.”
And one conclusion being drawn on those social media sites that have not yet been banned is that this decision will be very beneficial to the authorities.
This theory is summarized in this tweet:
“This is the work of Tayyip Erdogan, who wants to go to the polls without Twitter and WhatsApp. He shouldn’t justify his attempts to censor social media with the vile attacks on Esra. In reality, his purpose in banning social media is obvious.”