President Erdoğan: We will take social media under control

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced on July 1 that he and his government would take social media platforms under control, Turkish media reported.

Delivering a speech during a video conference of provincial representatives from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), President Erdoğan addressed defamatory and sexist social media messages about his newborn grandson, the son of his eldest daughter Esra and her husband Berat Albayrak, the treasury and finance minister.

Albayrak announced on June 29 the arrival of his fourth son, Hamza Salih, in a social media post, attracting congratulatory as well as libelous comments and remarks from social media users, with the latter prompting criticism from a variety of people.

Turkish media sources reported that police detained a man identified only by the initials E.B. in the Mediterranean city of Mersin over his allegedly defamatory post.

Commenting on the libelous messages, Erdoğan said: “My eighth grandson, Hamza Salih, was born the night before last. Berat Bey [his son-in law] shared the joy of the birth of his son on social media. Tens of thousands of people conveyed their congratulations and good wishes. However, even if few in number, some despicable people who have no morals, honor, dignity or humanity tried to pollute this joyous atmosphere by revealing the evil within them. The judiciary and the police took immediate action. We will not let these reprehensible people who attack a family and their values over a baby go unpunished. We will hold each and every one of them to account for the crime they committed.”

Erdoğan then announced that his government would take immediate action to “close down” social media channels.

“We have seen similar attacks in the past. The state of those media platforms being uncontrolled plays a role in the increase of such immorality. Do you understand why we are against social media channels like YouTube, Twitter and Netflix? … We do not want to see developments that are not worthy of this nation. … That’s why we want to bring these [regulations] to the floor of parliament as soon as possible to completely close and control such social media channels. Global companies assume all legal and financial responsibility through country representatives. When it comes to Turkey, they insistently avoid this.”

Erdoğan said his government was working on a comprehensive regulation of social media. “We cannot agree to sit with our hands tied before social media, and we are working on a comprehensive regulation. When the legislation is complete, we will put into effect all kinds of measures, including judicial and financial sanctions, as well as access bans. I call on our parliament and our party to quickly draft [the necessary regulation] and put it into effect immediately. I hope this issue will be dealt with before the end of this legislative session of parliament.”

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