Social media giants face advertisement bans for not appointing representatives to Turkey

Advertisement bans are underway for social media companies that didn't appoint representatives to the country. "Without advertisements, it will be meaningless for these companies to operate in Turkey," Alternative Informatics Association head Faruk Çayır told Duvar.

Serkan Alan / DUVAR

Social media companies that rejected opening offices in Turkey are currently facing a ban on advertisements as part of a draconian social media law that was passed in parliament three months ago. 

The companies, including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Periscope, TikTok and Dailymotion, refused to appoint representatives to Turkey, while VKontakte (VK) and YouTube said they will open offices. 

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 then announced that it will open an office in Turkey. 

The advertisement ban nears 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.

Commenting on the penalties, Alternative Informatics Association head Faruk Çayır said that the direction is towards "disconnecting the internet for citizens." 

"Without advertisements, it will be meaningless for these companies to operate in Turkey," Çayır told Duvar, adding that the penalties are effectively forcing companies to withdraw from Turkey. 

"Social media companies will either require payments for their applications or shut them down due to not receiving income from advertisements. Requiring payments is also meaningless since they will face narrowing of their bandwidth after a while and that will also proceed towards a shut-down," he said. 

Çayır noted that the penalties will also have a negative effect on the disadvantaged groups who make their voices heard on social media and the news platforms that reach their audiences through it, which will hamper the citizens' right to receive news.