Erdoğan 'signals formation of social media supervision agency'

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan signaled to his staff the formation of a social media monitoring agency, the daily Türkiye reported on July 11. One staffer said that the new office would be similar to the Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK), known for its harsh censorship of opposition outlets.

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President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan signaled in the latest Central Executive Board (MYK) meeting of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) the formation of a new monitoring agency that would restrict social media activity, the daily Türkiye reported on July 11. 

The president noted a recent misunderstanding about legislation signed with Qatar, claiming that main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu had purposefully spread misunderstanding. 

The legislation was interpreted as allowing all students from Qatar to study medicine in Turkey without any required qualifying exams, when in reality it allowed for military students to do so. 

"What Kılıçdaroğlu did is not spreading fake news. It's misinformation. The European Union equates and penalizes misinformation with terrorism crimes," the president reportedly said. 

The president urged his staff to include misinformation and fake news in legislation, adding that "appropriate penalties" were needed.

The president recently said that the government would launch an operation of truth against fake news by pointing to Kılıçdaroğlu who had repeated the misinterpretation of the news on Qatar students. 

"Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu needs to apologize about this story," the president reportedly said. 

AKP officials reportedly said that the new monitoring agency would be similar to the Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK), known for its excessive censorship of opposition media outlets. 

"A supervisory mechanism is needed for manipulative posts created by fake accounts and social media agencies," one AKP official reportedly said. "Perception dominates facts. This is very dangerous."

Ironically, the ruling AKP is often slammed for leading groups of social media trolls who lead in spreading misinformation.