Facebook Inc said on Jan. 18 that it had started the process of appointing a legal entity as a local representative in Turkey in compliance with a new social media law, but said this would not change the company's community standards.
Facebook said in a statement that if it faces pressure on those standards or the global process for reviewing government requests it will withdraw the representative.
"We would like to emphasize that it's very important for us that Facebook is a platform that our users can use their freedom of expression," the company said in its statement.
"The decision we adopted doesn't change the process of reviewing the demands to remove content submitted by state institutions or our community standards," it also said.
According to Facebook, it will remain committed to the protection of the freedom of expression and other human rights of the people living in Turkey.
Facebook's decision came a day before the deadline set to impose advertisement bans on companies failing to comply with the law.
Turkey's new social media regulation went into effect on Oct. 1, 2020 amid intense criticism on censorship, bringing along a string of restrictions for social media companies, including the requirement to open offices in Turkey, and a halving of their bandwidth if they fail to comply.
The first fine was imposed on Nov. 4. The due date set for the companies with over 1 million daily access from Turkey to appoint representatives was on Nov. 2, but only Russian social media platform VK conveyed the name of its representative to the Information Technologies and Communication Authority (BTK) at the time.
Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Periscope and TikTok were fined 10 million Turkish Liras each for not appointing representatives.
They were fined an additional 30 million liras each for still not appointing representatives on Dec. 3. YouTube, Dailymotion and TikTok then announced that they will open offices in Turkey.
The advertisement ban is set to be conveyed to the companies on Jan. 19 since they once again rejected to appoint representatives within 30 days. The ban will last for three months.
In case they insist on not appointing representatives within three months after the ban, the next step will be decreasing their bandwidth by 50 percent and it will further decrease by 90 percent if they don't abide, which means that access to them will practically be barred.
As part of the new legislation, social media firms must respond to requests by the Turkish government in Turkish and must answer requests concerning "personal and privacy rights" within 48 hours.
The platforms should also publish semi-annual reports on their response rates to such requests.
Social networks that do not comply with court orders to remove content are to be subject to penalties, according to the law. In addition, it also requires social media companies to take measures to host Turkey-based users’ data in the country.