Turkey overwhelmingly leads world in Twitter censorship

The Turkish government is continuing its efforts to censor Twitter, according to the site’s new transparency report, which shows that 466 of 513 total requests made to the online news and social networking site for content removal and takedowns between June and December 2017 came from Turkey.

Turkey also clinched the same title the previous year. Under the leadership of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who has called Twitter “the worst menace to society,” Turkey has accounted more than half the court orders for takedown requests. Of the 6,138 non-court order-based legal requests for content removal, 3,828 came from Turkey.

Three percent of such Twitter accounts were suspended following legal applications from Turkey; Twitter suspended 148 accounts and 322 tweets in total.

According to the report, Russia, which trails Turkey with the world’s second highest number of Twitter removal requests, pales in comparison. The Russian government made 1,292 requests in the same period.

In the section of Twitter’s report pertaining to Turkey, the following was noted: “Based on the 466 court orders, we filed 125 legal objections to Turkish courts on grounds that these orders violated freedom of expression and the press and/or because they did not include the content on the subject matter. Five of our applications were entirely approved while two were partially approved.”

According to a report by Vocativ in 2016, the world’s consistent leader in Twitter censorship is Turkey. Turkey had jumped from trying to censor 8,092 accounts in the latter half of 2015 to 14,953 to the first half of 2016.

The Turkish government has called for all sorts of online censorship, including blocking YouTube, VPNs, Proton mail, Wikipedia and more. The government also investigated more than 39,000 social media users and detained in excess of 3,000, with Turkish courts arresting more than 1,000 social media users in 2017.

Turkish police have conducted technical investigations into some 16,000 of these social media accounts, after which they launched legal investigations for 9,600 of them. As a result of these legal investigations police units detained over 3,000 social media users and remanded them to the courts. At least 1,000 of these detainees have been arrested.

Moreover, scores of people in Turkey have been detained or arrested or are under investigation on allegations of insulting Turkish President Erdoğan in their social media posts. As of the end of 2016, at least 10,000 people were under investigation on suspicion of terrorist propaganda and insulting senior state officials on social media.

A total of 1,080 people were convicted of insulting Erdoğan in 2016, according to data from Turkey’s Justice Ministry. Data also showed that 4,936 cases were launched against people on charges of insult in 2016.

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