Turkish presidency urges Turks to abandon WhatsApp, stand against 'digital fascism'

Turkish Presidential Digital Transformation Office has called on Turks to abandon WhatsApp and switch to local messaging apps. "Let's stand against digital fascism together," Ali Taha Koç, head of the office, said on Twitter.

Duvar English 

Turkish Presidential Digital Transformation Office head Ali Taha Koç has urged Turkish citizens to abandon WhatsApp and switch to local messaging apps after WhatsApp's updated terms of service raised eyebrows on social media. 

WhatsApp laid out fresh terms on Jan. 6, asking users to agree to let owner Facebook Inc and its subsidiaries collect user data, including their phone number and location. The users must accept the changes or see their access to the service cut off from Feb. 8.

Some privacy activists questioned the "accept our data grab or get out" move on Twitter, and suggested users to switch to apps like Signal and Telegram.

Facebook, which owns WhatsApp, said European and U.K. users would not see the same data-sharing changes, although they will need to accept new terms.

"The distinction between EU member countries and others in terms of data privacy is unacceptable! As we have cited in the Information and Communication Security Guideline, foreign origin applications bear significant risks regarding data security," Koç tweeted on Jan. 9. 

"That's why we need to protect our digital data with local and national software and develop them in line with our needs. Let's not forget that Turkey's data would stay in Turkey thanks to local and national solutions," he said. 

He then went on to urge the Turks to use local messaging apps such as BiP and Dedi. 

"Our local products have more [qualities] than foreign ones. We invite all of our citizens to use local and national apps," Koç said. 

"Let's stand against fascism together as our President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan stated," he added. 

With WhatsApp's new changes, Telegram has become the most downloaded messaging app in Apple’s App Store in Turkey, Anadolu Agency has reported. 

In second place is Signal, an app recommended by Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla, followed by WhatsApp itself, and BiP, an app by Turkish mobile network giant Turkcell.

For Android users, Telegram Messenger was first in the Play Store, followed by WhatsApp and BiP.

BiP gained over 1.12 million users in just 24 hours, boasting over 53 million users worldwide, according to data shared by Turkcell.

Turkey's Presidential Communications Directorate on Jan. 10 said that it will use BiP to inform journalists instead of WhatsApp.