Turkey to protect citizens against disinformation: Erdoğan
Describing social media as one of the main threats to democracy and warning that disinformation has turned into a global security issue, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has vowed to protect people against false information and propaganda.
“When it was first introduced, social media was hailed as a symbol of freedom, but it has since evolved into one of the most serious threats to modern democracy,” Erdoğan said in a video message to a communications conference in Istanbul on Dec. 11.
In the face of rising digital fascism and fake news, the world’s developed democracies, including Turkey, are on high alert, and disinformation has now transcended the scope of a national security issue to become a global security issue, the president stated.
“In this regard, it is critical to directly inform the public and fight against disinformation and propaganda within the framework of truth. We are seeking to protect our people, particularly the most vulnerable members of our society, from lies and disinformation while respecting our citizens’ right to receive accurate and impartial information,” Erdoğan said.
Erdoğan said they would continue to pursue an open and clear communication strategy in this struggle regardless of the global networks which believe they are “indisputable.”
“We will not, under any circumstances, allow perception operations to devalue the truth or cover it up with lies,” he added.
Erdoğan stated that they implemented the necessary legislative and administrative regulations in light of good examples worldwide and explained they did so by relying on the authorities vested by democracy and international law.
No one or no company would be above the law, regardless of their financial strength, international position, or claim, Erdoğan added.
Turkey has created a roadmap by publishing the National Public Diplomacy Strategy Paper and Action Plan, the president said, noting that with the Strategic Communication Policy Paper, which is still underway, Ankara will be able to take these efforts to the next level.
Turkey passed a law last year requiring social media platforms that have more than 1 million users to maintain a legal representative and store data in the country. Major social media companies, including Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, have since established offices in Turkey.
According to media reports, the new legislation would make the dissemination of “disinformation” and “fake news” criminal offenses punishable by up to five years in prison. It also would establish a social media regulator.