President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said that he seeks to shut social media platforms in Turkey, a day after his daughter Esra Albayrak was insulted on Twitter.
During a speech on July 1, Erdoğan said that the reason behind such insults is social media usage, adding that “rapid steps will be taken for their complete removal.”
“The issue we need to talk about is how these social media platforms turned into tools for such foulness. They need to be brought into order. Such platforms don’t suit this country and our people. That’s why we want these social media platforms completely shut or controlled after bringing the issue to our parliament,” he told members of his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).
“Global companies take responsibility for all legal and financial issues via their representations. They avoid doing so in Turkey,” he added.
‘We’re against YouTube, Twitter and Netflix’
Slamming the social media users who insulted Albayrak and her husband Treasury and Finance Minister Berat Albayrak following the birth of their fourth child Hamza Salih, Erdoğan said, “We’ll bring them to account for the crime they committed.”
“We experienced similar attacks in the past. The fact that these social media platforms are uncontrolled have a role in the increase in these immoralities. Do you understand why we’re against social media platforms such as YouTube, Twitter and Netflix? To get rid of these immoralities. They are immoral,” he said.
“We can’t accept 83 million people standing with their hands tied against social media terror,” Erdoğan added.
Days after thousands of dislikes
Erdoğan’s remarks came days after he was forced to hide comments during a live broadcast after pouring criticisms from students, with the video receiving over 368,000 dislikes on YouTube.
Erdoğan on June 26 was holding an online meeting with students set to take the Higher Education Entrance Exam (YKS) when young people started to use the hashtag, “You won’t receive our votes.”
Following the increasing number of comments, Erdoğan ordered the comment section to be disabled. The hashtag then became a trending topic on Twitter.
The video also received over 368,000 dislikes, while the number of likes remained significantly lower with 107,000.
‘Social media terror’
In his speech on July 1, Erdoğan also said that the AKP is working on the legal regulations on the social media issue.
“We have to do what’s necessary in order for these platforms to open legal and financial representations. We’ll introduce access bans, as well as legal and financial measures. I hope this issue will be solved before this legislative period ends. We’ll look into what our country needs,” he said.
“Anyone can experience what our family went through. Anything that’s accepted as a crime when said to other people face-to-face must be handled the same on social media,” Erdoğan added.
After Erdoğan’s comments drew ire, one of his top aides, Communications Director Fahrettin Altun, said the president’s remarks were being taken out of context, adding the social media companies were asked to open offices in Turkey.
It is a futile effort to try presenting our president’s approach as repressive and prohibitionist,” Altun said.