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Erdogan vows social media ‘control’ after family insulted

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks during a press conference after the Cabinet Meeting at the Presidential Complex in Ankara on June 29, 2020. (Photo by Adem ALTAN / AFP)


Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday vowed to tighten government control over social media after he said his family was insulted online.

Erdogan over the years has made no secret of his dislike for social media, once comparing them to a “murderer’s knife” and previously promising to “eradicate” Twitter.

Finance Minister Berat Albayrak, who is also Erdogan’s son-in-law, on Tuesday tweeted that his wife, Esra Albayrak, had given birth to their fourth child.

Erdogan said despite the majority of positive messages congratulating the couple, there were some “dark-hearted” users who insulted the Albayrak family, especially Esra.

He pointed to “an uncontrolled media” after such remarks, which were condemned by women’s rights organisations as well as political parties from across the spectrum.

“Do you see why we are against social media like YouTube, Twitter and Netflix? To eliminate these immoralities. They don’t have morals,” Erdogan said in Ankara.

“We don’t want to experience, see these developments which don’t suit this nation,” he added, speaking via videoconference to his ruling party officials.

“This is why we should bring this to our parliament, to remove these social media networks completely, to control them,” Erdogan said.

Soon after his comments, the hashtag in Turkish meaning “don’t touch my social media” was trending on Twitter.

The government under Erdogan previously blocked Twitter and YouTube in 2014 after audio recordings were posted implicating the president, then prime minister, and his inner circle in an alleged corruption scandal.

His aversion also dates back to anti-government protests in 2013, which were often mobilised by Twitter and Facebook posts.

Erdogan’s angry remarks come after a videoconference with young people last week during which Erdogan was met with a flood of negative comments on YouTube.

The Turkish presidency soon turned off comments but there were 388,000 clicks on the “thumbs down” button, compared with 114,000 on the “thumbs up” button.

The Turkish National Police later on Wednesday said 11 suspects were detained over “insulting posts” against Albayrak and his family.


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