Turkey fined the online media giants one million euros each for breaking a strict new law intended to ensure that the government in Ankara can get content that it considers illegal removed.
Turkey on Wednesday imposed ten million Turkish lira (one million euro) fines on digital media giants including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Periscope and TikTok because they did not appoint official representatives in the country as required by a new digital media law adopted in July this year.
If appointed, the company’s representatives would have to remove any piece of content that the Turkish authorities consider illegal within 48 hours of an official request.
“As the deadline for social media companies… for informing the government about their representatives is over, ten million lira fines are imposed,” Deputy Transport Minister Omer Fatih Sayan said on Twitter.
Sayan called on the companies to appoint their representatives in Turkey immediately.
“Otherwise, other steps will be taken,” he warned.
According to the new digital media law, the online media giants now have 30 days to appoint their representatives. If they do not, 30 million lira (three million euro) fines will be imposed.
If they still do not comply within three months, they will face an advertisement ban for three months.
As final sanctions, their bandwidth will be halved and then cut by 90 per cent.
The government is also asking the online media giants to transfer their servers to Turkey.
So far, none of the major companies have complied.
Opposition parties and human rights groups see the new law as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s attempt to control media platforms and silence his critics.
The new regulations might result in these companies quitting the Turkish market, experts have warned.
PayPal quit the Turkish market in 2016 because of similar requests and Wikipedia was blocked in Turkey for more than two-and-a-half years.
Turkey has submitted the highest number of requests to Twitter to delete content and close accounts, the company has said.
According to Twitter, Turkey asked it to close nearly 9,000 accounts, but it only shut down 264 of them.