Turkish telecoms authority determined to take legal action on anti-war posts

27 January 2018

The Turkish Information and Communication Technologies Authority (BTK)has announced that the agency was working to remove social media posts that they describe as “seeking to create provocation” regarding Turkey’s military operation in Syria and to launch legal action into the sharers of such posts.

BTK head Ömer Fatih Sayan said his agency had sent notifications to social media  companies and hosting providers, “issuing the necessary warnings.”

Sayan said BTK had gotten in touch with representatives of Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and Instagram, adding that they were transferring real-time information on content deemed “illegal” by the government.

Speaking to the state owned and openly government-aligned Anatolia News Agency (AA), Sayan said, “We are attempting to ensure that necessary action is taken on such posts by using the warn-and-remove method, an international legal standard. However some social media companies of US origin have been hesitant to remove the illegal content in spite of notifications conveyed, and more over, they have insisted on allowing the publication of such content. Immediate action is being taken by our agency against social media accounts that seek to manipulate public perception through illegal and manipulative content and other internet publications.”

He said, in order to prevent such content from being published for the purpose of “protecting natural security and public order,” the BTK was conducting coordinated efforts with the Prime Ministry, the Interior Ministry and the relevant units of the National Police Department, providing real-time information on illegal posts.

The BTK head also called on “citizens” to “show the necessary level of sensitivity and contribute to the fight against fake news and posts by using the relevant mechanisms of reporting.”

So far, about 100 people have been investigated and at least 57 of them have been detained by police over posts regarding the military campaign, which Turkey names “Operation Olive Branch.” At least a dozen of those were arrested. Those incarcerated include journalists and politicians.