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Facebook bows to Turkey’s demand of representative to comply with social media law

Published: Updated:

Facebook has started the process of assigning a legal representative in Turkey to comply with a law governing social media companies, Turkey’s official Anadolu news agency said Monday.

The law, which passed in July, requires social media companies such as Facebook and Twitter to maintain representatives in Turkey to deal with complaints about content on their platforms.

Companies refusing to designate an official representative are subject to fines, advertising bans and bandwidth reductions that would make their networks too slow to use.

The local representative of social media companies would be tasked with responding to individual requests to take down content violating privacy and personal rights within 48 hours or to provide grounds for rejection. The company would be held liable for damages if the content is not removed or blocked within 24 hours.

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan arrives to address his ruling party lawmakers at the parliament, in Ankara on Oct. 28, 2020. (AP)
Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan arrives to address his ruling party lawmakers at the parliament, in Ankara on Oct. 28, 2020. (AP)

The law also requires social media data to be stored in Turkey, raising concerns in a country where the government has a track record of clamping down on free speech.

Turkish authorities have fined the social media giant at least 40 million Turkish lira ($5.3 million) for not complying with the request to assign a representative. Advertising bans for companies who have not complied are set to begin Tuesday.

Facebook will join LinkedIn, YouTube, TikTok, Dailymotion and the Russian social media site VKontakte in setting up legal entities in Turkey. Facebook did not immediately reply to requests for comment.

Amnesty International’s Turkey campaigner Milena Buyum tweeted the law undermines freedom of expression online in a country where independent media is already curtailed.

“The consequences of compliance for human rights are huge: companies would not be able to resist arbitrary blocking/banning requests, would be compelled to provide user data,” she said.

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