President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said that his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) is preparing to introduce a legislation that would enable “all citizens to use social media in an effective and moral way.”
“In today’s world, we know that digital platforms and social media are very important channels which are never to be neglected. It is my duty, as the president, to ensure that all citizens use the social media in an effective and at the same time in a moral way. We are currently preparing a strong legal infrastructure regarding this issue,” Erdoğan said on June 26, during a livestream videoconference with students ahead of this weekend’s university entrance exam.
“With the legal regulations that we will take, we will unite our nation with a trustworthy internet. Every citizen and institution, just like in the real life, should also have the right to protect their material and immaterial reputation in social media and digital platforms,” he said.
Students protest Erdoğan by writing ‘No votes for you’ on live chat
As Erdoğan made his remarks, thousands of students logged onto the livestream chat and wrote that they would not give their votes for the AKP in the upcoming elections.
The students’ protest came after the AKP government in May announced that it was moving up the date of the university entrance exam to June 27 and 28 instead of earlier plans for July.
In the face of this move, many students across Turkey have said that the government was endangering their lives amid the novel coronavirus outbreak.
On June 26, as Erdoğan addressed the youth, thousands of them were seen posting message of “Oy moy yok” on the live chat (“No votes for you” in English).
After a while, the live chat option was disabled by the Erdoğan’s team.
Erdoğan’s remarks on regulating social media came after the Presideny’s Communications Directorate in May published its 161-page-long “Guidebook for Social Media Use,” which provides recommendations on how to use social media in a “correct and healthy” way.
Communications Director Fahrettin Altun commented on the guidebook in an interview for the newspaper Hürriyet on May 29, saying that “it is necessary to be careful before you like or share content” on social media.
“One of the responsibilities of the public authority is to prevent social media from turning into a crime scene and to protect personal rights and public interests. Nonetheless, the greatest responsibility rests with the users themselves. On this platform, I think it is useful for individuals to feel responsible and to share their posts accordingly,” he said.
In April, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), a staunch ally of the AKP, suggested accessing social media with ID numbers in a draft bill they submitted to parliament.
The bill on “regulating broadcasts on internet and struggling crimes committed via these” was submitted to Parliament Speaker’s Office by MHP deputy Halil Öztürk, who claimed that internet users suffer from fake news and accounts on social media.