Turkish parliament passes law prohibiting military personnel from posting on social media

The Turkish parliament passed a bill on May 30 prohibiting military personnel from sharing any content that would expose their identities, duties, or assignments on social media. A provision banning media comments by retired military personnel was removed.

Duvar English

The Turkish parliament passed a draft bill prohibiting Turkish armed forces personnel from sharing social media on May 30.

According to the passed legislation, the identities, duties, or activities of Turkish Armed Forces personnel, except for situations authorized by the Defense Ministry, cannot be disclosed through radio, television, the internet, social media, newspapers, magazines, books, or any other media.

If violated, personnel can face disciplinary punishment.

A controversial provision that would have prohibited retired military personnel from making statements or comments in the media was removed from the bill.

The bill still needs approval from the President and to be published in the Official Gazette.

According to a statement by the Turkish Armed Forces, the social media ban is necessary ‘’to protect national security and to protect the reputation of its personnel.’’

Over the past few years, there have been multiple instances of military personnel livestreaming or sharing photos on social media while on duty, potentially giving away crucial intelligence.

In late 2023, a special forces soldier opened a livestream on TikTok while stationed, garnering 1,200 viewers at one point. His other videos from the region garnered over 140,000 views.

However, banning TikTok solely for soldiers does not cut it, according to Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) deputy Halil Öztürk, who submitted a bill for the closure of one Turkey’s most popular social media platforms with over 30 million users.

The lawmaker from the central province of Kırıkkale, whose party is in cahoots with the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), argues that TikTok threatens the “social order” and is incompatible with “Turkish family structure and human dignity.”

“Posts made on social media platforms where our moral values are disregarded should be considered as elements that threaten our social order,” Öztürk said on May 30.

Turkey has around 57,50 million social media users as of Jan. 2024, equating to over 66 percent of the total population, according to digital reference library DataReportal.

(English version by Wouter Massink)