HomePoliticsTwitter Begins Censoring Content Ahead of National Elections

Twitter Begins Censoring Content Ahead of National Elections

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Twitter announced it will restrict speech in Turkey in the days preceding Sunday’s elections.

“In response to legal process and to ensure Twitter remains available to the people of Turkey, we have taken action to restrict access to some content in Turkey today. We have informed the account holders of this action in line with our policy. This content will remain available in the rest of the world,” Twitter’s office of global government affairs posted.

CNN reports that Sunday’s elections pose a challenge for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the head of the Republican People’s Party, is his principal opponent.

In accordance with Turkish law, the victor must acquire more than fifty percent of the vote. If no candidate receives a majority, there is a runoff between the top two vote-getters. If required, this ballot would take place on May 28.

Human Rights Watch had feared Turkey would seize control of social media in the country prior to Twitter’s announcement.

“The Turkish government has accelerated its efforts to enforce censorship and tighten control over social media and independent online news sites ahead of this election,” Deborah Brown, senior technology researcher at Human Rights Watch, said.

“The vote will test whether voters in Turkey can rely on social media for independent news and to express their views on the election and its outcome, despite government efforts to put companies under its heel.”

“Social media companies may face intense pressure to remove content the government views unfavorably, including assessments from independent monitors,” Sarah Clarke, director of ARTICLE 19 Europe, said.

“It is crucial for companies to resist these pressures and do everything in their power to push back against measures that would make them complicit in rights abuses during this critical election period,” she said.

According to a report in The New York Times, Erdogan trails his challenger in public opinion polls despite using all levers of power to improve his standing with voters.

“The elections are not fair, but nonetheless they are free, and that is why there is always the prospect of political change in Turkey. The prospect exists, and is now palpable,” Sinan Ulgen, director of the Istanbul-based EDAM research group, said.

Although some reports have suggested that Erdogan, who has ruled Turkey for the past two decades, will not resign if the vote goes against him, he has downplayed this notion.

“If our nation decides to make such a different decision, we will do exactly what’s required by democracy,” he said.

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