Twitter agrees to heavy censorship in Turkey & elsewhere

Turkey has requested Twitter delete 45,800 tweets, 31 percent of all requests globally. Many of them would be protected by freedom of speech laws in most countries. I’d bet many were reasonable, non-violent political statements. Erdogan is not as authoritarian as the Saudis, Omanis, or Syrians, but the government is harsh on any opposition.

Facing a likely ban, Twitter has now agreed to honor government takedown notices within 48 hours. It was already blocked from selling ads in Turkey and fined $5M.

Facebook, VKontakte (VK), YouTube, TikTok, LinkedIn, and Dailymotion have also established local offices and agreed to obey the government. They will also store users’ data locally.

To ensure that Twitter remains available for all who use it in Turkey, we have decided to establish a legal entity. In coming to this decision, we were guided by our core mission: defending open, public conversation and ensuring our service is available to people everywhere. 

Complete statement below

Similar laws are pending around the world, For Twitter to be available “everywhere,” it will have to make many compromises like this.

These are complicated issues. I’m a strong believer in freedom of speech but question private US companies making decisions on what is acceptable around the world.

I believe Internet companies should obey any reasonable law in all countries in which they do business. They should pay taxes. The world would be a better place if giant companies created jobs across the world. Moving so many jobs to California is a greedy practice. The US Internet giants are taking $billions from poor countries, a highly questionable practice. (I have a Rawlsian sense of justice.)

Some lines should not be crossed. I do not believe Israeli security companies should wiretap dissidents and journalists in brutal dictatorship.

An update on Twitter in Turkey

By Twitter Public PolicyFriday, 19 March 2021    

Twitter’s mission is to serve the public conversation and ensure the service is a place where people can connect, find credible information, and express themselves – anywhere in the world. 

We are committed to protecting and defending the Open Internet, and as part of this work, have called for the establishment of regional and global standards for online services. We believe that global and not fragmented frameworks protect online communities and their rights, and ensure they can experience the Internet in the same way across the world. Additionally, in an open, competitive environment, smaller companies are not only able to operate alongside the very largest companies, but can thrive. 

In our continuing effort to provide our service in Turkey, we have closely reviewed the recently amended Internet Law No. 5651. To ensure that Twitter remains available for all who use it in Turkey, we have decided to establish a legal entity. 

In coming to this decision, we were guided by our core mission: defending open, public conversation and ensuring our service is available to people everywhere. 

We remain committed to protecting the voices and data of people in Turkey who use Twitter. We will continue to be transparent about how we handle requests from government and law enforcement. 

Twitter was founded on freedom of expression, and we respect people’s universal right to express their views online. We have a designated human rights function at Twitter and hold our processes, product, and policies accountable — we have and will, as always, enforce our rules impartially and judiciously.

We will continue to work to protect the public conversation in Turkey, empowering people to have access to that conversation, and advocating for our values

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