Family takes priority over freedoms for us, Turkish Parliament’s digital media commission chair says

The chair of the Parliamentary Commission on Digital Media from the ruling AKP, Hüseyin Yayman, said that family was more important to them than freedoms in the session where the TikTok regional spokesperson was heard after obscenity allegations on the platform.

Ceren Bayar / Gazete Duvar

Hüseyin Yayman, ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) lawmaker and chair of the Parliamentary Commission on Digital Media, stated that the family was more important for them than freedoms in the session with representatives from the social media platform TikTok.

Taking the floor before the presentation of TikTok officials, Yayman said, "Just as it is against the ordinary flow of life for a woman to undress in a city square, this is also the case in digital platforms. Freedoms are important for us, but our family is much more important."

Yayman noted that women trafficking, drug consumption, child abuse, and Islamophobia have been rampant in transnational digital networks and that they could have never turn a blind eye to this. Yayman said, "What is a crime in real life is also a crime in digital platforms.”

The chair underscored that the earnings from digital media should be taxed and added, "We want both freedoms and public order to be ensured and we care about the protection of our family. We are against censorship, but we are also against any content that demolishes the foundation of society and our family."

Before giving the floor to Emir Gelen, TikTok’s Middle East, Africa, and Turkey representative, Yayman stated, "You are also a father, an uncle. I received many phone calls before coming to this meeting. Everyone said to close TikTok. Make your evaluations accordingly.”

Gelen said he could understand the discomfort with some of the posts on the platform, "However, the reality is that sometimes we can over-moderate or not respond as quickly as expected."

Parliamentary commission hears Emir Gelen (Middle) during a session on TikTok.

TikTok representative noted that some of the moderation was conducted via artificial intelligence tools and that experts who know the language of the country have been also employed in each country. Gelen said that Turkey ranks fourth in the world in terms of employment in moderation.

He stated that TikTok had developed a special unit for the prevention of money laundering upon the increase in illicit means of earnings in Turkey and that they have had several meetings with the Financial Crimes Investigation Board (MASAK).

Interior Minister Ali Yerlikaya on Dec. 5, announced that out of 1332 TikTok account owners investigated, 13 were arrested, 48 were released under judicial control measures, and deportation procedures were initiated for 14 people. The charges include obscenity and child abuse.