Erdogan in Turkey calls social media a threat to democracy

ISTANBUL (AP), -- Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdan described Saturday's social media attack as one of the biggest threats to democracy.

Erdogan in Turkey calls social media a threat to democracy

Erdogan's government will pursue legislation to criminalize disinformation and fake news online spreading, but critics claim that the proposed changes would increase restrictions on free speech.

Erdogan stated that social media, once a symbol for freedom, had become one of the major threats to democracy today in a video message to a Turkish government-organized communication conference.

He said, "We try and protect our people, particularly the vulnerable sections, against lies, disinformation, without violating our citizens right to accurate and impartial information."

Turkey passed a law last January that required social media platforms with more than 1,000,000 users to have a legal representative and store data within the country. Since then, major social media companies like Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter have established offices in Turkey.

According to pro-government media reports, the new legislation would make dissemination of "disinformation", and "fake information" criminal offenses that could lead to up to five years imprisonment. It would also establish a regulator for social media.

Turkey's media giants are most of them under government control. Social media is an important platform for dissident voices.

Freedom House's Freedom on the Net report on Turkey, published in September, stated that Turkey was "not free." It noted the removal of content critical to the government and the prosecution for people who post "undesirable” comments on social media.

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