Nergis Demirkaya / DUVAR
A bill being drafted by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) aimed at regulating social media platforms in Turkey is to resemble similar legislation in Germany, according to sources within the party.
On July 1, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan vowed to control or shut down certain social media platforms after his daughter Esra Albayrak was insulted on Twitter. Days prior, Erdoğan appeared live on Youtube and gave a speech to students prior to university entrance exams, but the feed was bombarded with hundreds of thousands of dislikes and negative comments, prompting a ban on commenting.
The AKP’s bill is expected to be finalized soon as parliament prepares to go on vacation between July 24 and October 1. Officials from the party say that claims from the opposition that the government wants to ban social media are off base:
“Our purpose here is to establish Turkey representatives for social media providers. When accounts with a clear identity share posts that are insulting or defamatory, it is a matter for the Turkish penal code. However, in the same situation this is not possible with anonymous accounts,” an AKP official said.
“There needs to be an open door to which people can appeal. If they see a violation of rights, they need to be able to say ‘take down this post’ and if there is a violation of personal rights, the company needs to take down the post. The purpose is to establish representatives that will assume legal responsibility, otherwise, anyone will be able to write whatever they want. If a company is doing this in Germany, why shouldn’t they in Turkey?” the official said.
Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) chair Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu criticized the legislation, claiming that it is the result of Erdoğan being bothered by the barrage of dislikes and negative comments that his Youtube live speech received.
“The person in the palace was very sad about the dislikes. He knows what is going to come from Generation Z, he saw this. Otherwise, why would this topic come to the agenda now? We will defend the areas of freedom until the end. We will not be partners with a repressive mindset,” Kılıçdaroğlu said.