Turkey fines social media giants including Facebook, Twitter for breaching it’s new Internet law

Turkey has fined global social media companies, including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, 10 million lira each for not complying with a new social media law. Omer Fatih Sayan, chairman of the Information and Communication Technologies Authority, said Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Periscope, YouTube and TikTok would be fined to the tune of $1.2 million each.

The new law, which was passed in July and came into effect last month, requires platforms with more than one million daily users in Turkey to appoint a representative accountable to Turkish courts, abide by orders to remove “offensive” content within 48 hours and store user data inside Turkey. The law was passed immediately after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called for social media sites to be “cleaned up” after his daughter and son-in-law were insulted on Twitter following the birth of their fourth child.

The fines are the first step on an escalating scale of penalties that can end in a block on 90% of the site’s internet traffic bandwidth. Social media firms with more than 1 million daily users in Turkey had been due to notify the government that they would establish a representative in the country by Monday. The fine is the first of five stages to penalise companies that do not comply with the law, which came into force on Oct. 1.

“I have complete faith that social network providers will make representative notices to our country as the legal process progresses,” tweeted Sayan, who is also Turkey’s deputy transport and infrastructure minister. “Our aim is not to be in conflict with these providers serving billions of people around the world.”

Critics say the law is a government bid to control the online sphere. Some 90% of newspapers and TV news channels are controlled by the government or its supporters. Turkey has previously blocked sites including YouTube, Twitter and Wikipedia over what it claimed was offensive content.

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