Turkey Struggles To Restrict Or Ban Social Media Essay Example
In today’s world, social media has become a major part of people’s lives. There are many countries where a majority of the population spends a substantial amount of their time using social media sites. People depend on these sites for updates on information regarding their personal and business lives, and various other resources they find useful and interesting. This is often done from home using a personal computer, or on a computer that may be shared with coworkers while working. Although social media is a useful tool, not everyone has easy access to it. This is due to various problems such as governmental restrictions and bans on social media in Turkey. One reason for this is the false news that is posted on sites such as Twitter and Facebook, which irritates the public and threatens security (Government working on draft to restrict social media in Turkey, 2013). Websites such as YouTube have also been banned, as it is believed that wiretapped recordings containing private governmental information are becoming more common. Because of the usage of social media by protester groups and other cybercrime, this limits its use for everyone.
There have been restrictions regarding what is and is not allowed to be posted on social media sites for years. In 2010, there were more than 150 issues formally banned by Turkish authorities, and this number continues to grow (Dombey, 2015). In addition to these increasing numbers, the amount of attention paid to social media activity has also increased. It has been stated that Interior Minister Muammer Guler said that these sites are on government radar, due to their use by protesters to organize their demonstrations (Ferguson, Laverty, Biddle, & Myers, 2013). This has resulted in a larger amount of people in this country facing various charges. Some of these protestors have recently been detained by police in Izmir for their offensive tweets while protesting (Government working on draft to restrict social media in Turkey, 2013). One man was sent to prison for ten months simply for swearing at the prime minister in a tweet (Schenkkan, 2014). The government is currently inspecting over five million tweets regarding the Gezi Park protests, and earlier last year President Abdullah Gul stated that he will be conducting judicial and executive investigations (Hurriyet Daily News, 2013). In addition to social media, any webpage found in violation of anything the government disagrees with can be fined up to $44,500 (Resneck, 2014).
Those who belong to protester groups are not the only ones who run into problems and are disciplined for their social media activities. Every single person needs to be careful, because they can get in trouble at any time. For example, a Turkish woman, Sedef Kabas, was arrested for posting her thoughts about whether or not four ministers who were caught in a corruption case should receive parliamentary immunity (Dombey, 2015). This lady was angry not only because she could not post how she felt about this issue, but also that there were more dangerous people in the country that police and the government need to focus on. Many also agree with this idea. There are several times in which people on Facebook or Twitter speak with others regarding their thoughts and opinions about similar issues about governmental problems. It can be argued that more often than not, these are simply conversations between individuals who have no connections with any protest groups. On the other hand, even though the protestors are a minority of social media users, the government feels the need to control them. It could be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to identify those who are behind all of the postings that are banned.
Both Facebook and Twitter have recently received orders from Turkey. Facebook was ordered to block anything that insulted the Prophet Mohammed and told that if it did not observe this rule, all of the Facebook services in Turkey would be ended (Dombey, 2015). Twitter was told to block approximately 300 tweets from journalists about a judge connection with highly politicized cases (Dombey, 2015). Although these sites complied, there are several who did not agree with their actions. Many people believed that these companies, which are based in the United States, should not listen to what the Turkish government asks them to do. In addition, others have stated that this goes against freedom of speech issues (Rawlinson, 2014). For these reasons, they believe the postings on the social media sites should not have to be removed. The restriction of freedom of expression in Turkey can bring concerns in areas such as this due to items such as the Turkish penal code 301, in which “insults to Turkishness,” is penalized (Bar, A., n.d.). The Obama administration also agrees that these bans should be removed. Jen Psaki, State Department spokeswomen, stated that the placement of these limitations goes against its desires to maintain the best standards of democracy and wishes to attract foreign investment (Sen, 2014).
While there have only been a few rare occurrences of the severity being reduced in these cases, it has happened. In 2014, YouTube was blocked because audio recordings of senior officials speaking about possible attacks on Syria leaked out (Turkey court eases YouTube restrictions, 2014). However, it was determined that blocking the whole YouTube website was a violation of human rights and instead, these restrictions were changed to blocking only fifteen videos (Turkey court eases YouTube restrictions, 2014).
Turkey is not the only country to place limits or ban social media use sites such as Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube. Other countries with restrictions include China, Iran, Vietnam, Pakistan, North Korea, and Eritea (Liebelson, 2014). These restrictions are similar to those in Turkey. For example, in 2009 China blocked Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, and Iran has blocked all three of these social media sites off and on since 2009 (Lieblson, 2014).
In conclusion, there are many limitations of what the Turkish government allows its citizens to post on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. These restrictions seem to be getting harsher and to avoid strict punishment, those living in this country need to be very careful when posting anything online.
Bar, A. (n.d.). Turkey explores the internet, along with restrictions. Retrieved from
Dombey, D. (2015). Social media becomes battleground in Turkish press freedom fight.
Retrieved from: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/845c0bba-a537-11e4-ad35-00144feab7de.html#axzz3U0wi8Weu
Ferguson, L., Laverty, A., Biddle, E., & Myers, S. (2013). Netizen report: Turkey to increase
social media restrictions? Retrieved from:
Government working on draft to restrict social media in Turkey. (2013). Hurriyet Daily News.
Retrieved from: http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/government-working-on-draft-to-restrict-social-media-in-turkey.aspx?pageID=238&nid=48982
Liebelson, D. (2014). Map: Here are the countries that block Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.
Retrieved from: http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/03/turkey-facebook-youtube-
Rawlinson, K. (2014). Turkey blocks use of Twitter after prime minister attacks social media
site. The Guardian. Retrieved from: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/mar/21/turkey-blocks-twitter-prime-minister
Resneck, J. (2014). Turkey’s parliament approved measures allowing the government to block
websites without seeking permission from a court. USA Today. Retrieved from:
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Sen, A. (2014). U.S. criticizes Turkey Twitter ban; urges restrictions lifted. The Washington
Times. Retrieved from: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/mar/21/us-criticizes-turkey-twitter-ban-urges-restriction/?page=all
Turkey court eases YouTube restrictions. (2014). Retrieved from:
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