Turkey urges social media to implement censorship
Turkey urges social media to implement censorship

Turkey, Vietnam, and other Asian emerging countries have increased pressure on social media platforms to restrict content.

Google's YouTube platform announced last week that it would open an office in Turkey after a law passed in July requiring large social media companies to appoint local representatives.

This is seen as a way to allow authorities to remove posts they deem inappropriate.

This requirement forces social media companies to make a difficult choice between cross-platform censorship or severe repercussions for their actions in major emerging markets.

Companies that do not comply with the new Turkish law will face the consequences of the upgrade by May, including ad bans and bandwidth cuts by up to 90%.

Before YouTube took action, only Russian company VKontakte hired local representatives, while other companies (including YouTube) were fined 40 million liras ($ 5.2 million).

In a statement, Human Rights Watch said that YouTube's decision set a dangerous precedent that made it difficult for other technology companies to refuse to appoint local representatives in Turkey or other countries with similar requirements.

Vietnam is also driving social media platforms forward. Hanoi recently warned Facebook that the company would stop operating in the country if it did not agree to tighten content restrictions.

Facebook accepted a similar request in April to review more positions against the country, but the government is now looking for tougher measures.

When anti-government protests erupted in Thailand in October, authorities heeded a request by the Thai Criminal Court to block the protest group's Facebook page, and asked the media to post protest videos on the platform.

In August, authorities asked Facebook to remove a page run by an organization critical of the Thai royal family. The company issued a statement that it was forced to do so while preventing Thailand from accessing the site.

In late September, Facebook shut down 64 fake accounts linked to the military and police in the Philippines criticizing the political opposition and human rights organizations.

President Rodrigo Duterte criticized the move during an online press conference earlier this month.

Russia is also tightening its grip on the internet, apparently to prevent the spread of extremism. Russia last year passed a new law banning fake news.

Lawmakers introduced a bill to Parliament in November that would allow the government to restrict access to US social media platforms that suppress official Russian media coverage.

A spokesperson for the president, Dmitry Peskov (Dmitry Peskov), defended the bill, saying: These platforms violate the rights of Russian users.

Nick Clegg, Facebook's vice president for global affairs, expressed concern about this development at the virtual web summit.

Clegg said: China's creation of the Internet relies on completely different values, with strict regulatory rights and no comprehensive scrutiny of data protection and privacy.

Major US platforms are keen to remain in these markets, especially after they have been driven out of China.

In December, Amnesty International criticized Facebook and Google for allowing Vietnamese authorities to use them as tools for surveillance and harassment.

Freedom Online surveyed 65 countries around the world and published Freedom House every year. In the past decade, internet freedom has declined year after year.

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