Turkey's Dictator Erdogan, Who Has Sued Thousands Of Critics, Jailed More, Now Claims That 'Social Media' Is A 'Threat To Democracy'

from the takes-one-to-know-one dept

In the past we’ve pointed out how western politicians’ attacks on social media are only serving to play into the hands of authoritarians around the globe, justifying their crackdowns on free speech and critics. And that doesn’t seem to be slowing down any time soon. The latest is Turkey’s President repeating the exact lines that US/EU politicians have been using to slam social media as “dangerous to democracy” in order to justify even more draconian crackdowns on speech and the press in his country.

We’ve written about Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for years — mostly covering his regular attacks on free expression. Erdogan has sued thousands of people for “insulting” him online. Even more serious is his regular practice of jailing journalists by falsely calling them terrorists. He’s also lead aggressive campaigns to ban any website that portrays him in an unflattering light.

So, you’d think that maybe US/EU politicians might recognize the problems of someone like Erdogan using their own words to further push his agenda. This weekend, Erdogan announced that social media is a “threat to democracy” and pushed for new laws that would criminalized “fake news” being spread on social media.

?Social media, which was described as a symbol of freedom when it first appeared, has turned into one of the main sources of threat to today?s democracy,? Erdogan said in a video message to a government-organised communications conference in Istanbul.

He added: ?We try to protect our people, especially the vulnerable sections of our society, against lies and disinformation without violating our citizens? right to receive accurate and impartial information.?

I mean, that sounds nearly identical to claims made by people like Senators Amy Klobuchar, Josh Hawley, Elizabeth Warren, or Ted Cruz. Of course, there is no actual democracy in Turkey right now, and Erdogan is just using these claims to justify even greater suppression of speech that criticizes him. As we’ve highlighted over and over again hate speech laws always turn into a mechanism for the government to punish people they don’t like.

As the article notes, Turkey has already moved to have much great control over social media companies, and this new move will ratchet up the pressure:

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.

The new legislation would make the dissemination of ?disinformation? and ?fake news? criminal offences punishable by up to five years in prison, according to pro-government media reports. It also would establish a social media regulator.

It seems like those US social media companies may want to reconsider their local offices.

But, even more to the point, US and EU politicians going out of their way to exaggerate and slam social media as a “threat to democracy” might want to think a bit more about how their words are being used, almost verbatim, as a justification around the globe to suppress free speech and political criticism.

Filed Under: , , , , , ,

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Turkey's Dictator Erdogan, Who Has Sued Thousands Of Critics, Jailed More, Now Claims That 'Social Media' Is A 'Threat To Democracy'”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment

This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it.

Koby (profile) says:

Re: Sucks to be Turkish

That’s the thing about boarders: local places have local control and jurisdiction. For thousands of years before the internet, folks accepted the idea that there are different laws in different countries. It probably shouldn’t come as a surprise that they also want control of the portion of the internet that lies within their country’s boarders. Most nations had such a hands-off approach, for so long, that it seemed like the internet might become a place of uniform rules. Now, nations are looking to take back control, even if it means a SplinterNet.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Sucks to be Turkish


boarder –
a person who receives regular meals when staying somewhere, in return for payment or services.
a person who forces their way on to a ship in an attack.
a person who takes part in a sport using a board, such as surfing or snowboarding.
'skiing purists say the boarders tear up the snow'

Please get it right you twit!

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Sucks to be Turkish

"Got to love the "we get the government we deserve" people."

Well, in even a Miminal democracy that’s the way it works. The most important election in the US, in recent times, was 2020. Barely 67% turnout of eligible voters.

If every liberal, progressive, or non-deranged person in the US showed up at the ballots with good preparation in 2022 the republicans would nary have a single representative to their name. But they won’t.

Meanwhile the 25% still voting GOP will turn up to own the libs if they have to crawl over two miles of broken glass to get there.

So tell me how this isn’t the government you deserve? The GOP have won the popular vote only once in the last 40 years, and the one thing democrats never put the work in was fixing that. It’s not as if the writing wasn’t on the wall long ago on how that side of things intended to win.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Sucks to be Turkish

[Addendum and TL;DR]

The US could have landslided the GOP right out of every office in the land plenty of times. Yet the voters chose not to. Because they drank the kool-aid, listened to the fear, were too lazy to vote, stayed at home come election. Etc.

Even the ones stating they don’t want to vote for a crook and abstain aren’t excused because when the choice stands between a crook and a monster it should be a no-brainer where you need to go.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Mirror, mirror...

We can whine and complain all day but the fact is he won legitimately. It’s not the voter’s fault the Democrats put up the ultimate establishment insider in a very anti-establishment election, treated it like it was a foregone conclusion she would win, and screwed over the ACTUAL progressive. She didn’t even campaign in alot of rust belt states because she assumed they would vote for her.

I should also mention her campaign team employed the "Piped Piper" strategy so they share the blame in the rise of Trump.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Mirror, mirror...

"A majority of American voters chose to demonstrate the truth of Plato’s saying about those too lazy to engage in politics".


When one of the most important elections this side of WW2 was held the US could barely muster a 67% turnout.

And you can bet most of the stay-at-homes were progressives because the MAGA crowd would have pawned their testicles and firstborn for a chance to own the libs.

That One Guy (profile) says:

... that's the point though

But, even more to the point, US and EU politicians going out of their way to exaggerate and slam social media as a "threat to democracy" might want to think a bit more about how their words are being used, almost verbatim, as a justification around the globe to suppress free speech and political criticism.

I don’t see why they would, he’s merely doing blatantly what they’re trying to do a little more subtlety, control the narrative and cripple alternative sources of information.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...