President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has deemed social media “one of the main sources of threats to today's democracy,” in a new message signaling that new restrictions against social media use are on their way.
“Social media, which was hailed as a symbol of freedom when it first emerged, has now turned into one of the main sources of threats to today's democracy... At this point, disinformation has gone beyond being a mere national security issue and has turned into a global security issue. In this regard, it is important to inform the public and to fight disinformation and propaganda within the framework of truth,” he said on Dec. 11.
Erdoğan made the remarks in a video message prepared for the first day of the Stratcom Summit 2021 organized by the Presidential Communications Directorate.
“We are trying to protect our people, especially the vulnerable sectors of our society, against lies and disinformation, without compromising our citizens' right to receive accurate and impartial information.”
“No one, no company can be above the law...We will definitely not allow the truth to be devalued by disinformation operations, and the truth to be covered by lies,” he further said.
Erdoğan's ruling Justice and Development (AKP) party is preparing a draft law covering what it says "false news" and "disinformation" online.
Details of the proposal have not been shared publicly, but various reports say that it foresees the establishment of a Social Media Directorate within the government to monitor online comments.
The upcoming legislation reportedly seeks up to five years in prison for a social media user over charges of “fakes news and disinformation.”
The draft also reportedly proposes establishing a body similar to the media regulator Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK).
The relevant draft legislation is the second concerning social media that has come out of the ruling AKP government in the past few years, with the other forcing social media platforms to establish offices in Turkey.