Turkey has fined global social media companies, including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, 10 million lira ($1.18m) each for not complying with a new social media law.
The new law, which came into effect last month, requires platforms with more than one million daily users in Turkey to appoint a representative accountable to Turkish courts, abide by orders to remove “offensive” content within 48 hours and store user data inside Turkey.
Critics said the law would muzzle dissent from people who resorted to online platforms after the government tightened its grip on mainstream media.
The fines are the first step on an escalating scale of penalties that can end in a block on 90 percent of the site’s internet traffic bandwidth.
Omer Fatih Sayan, chairman of the Information and Communication Technologies Authority, said on Twitter on Wednesday that Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Periscope, YouTube and TikTok would be fined.
“Foreign companies operating in Turkey that reach more than one million people daily have been told about some of the rules they need to comply with,” Sayan, who is also Turkey’s deputy transport and infrastructure minister, said.
Other measures to follow
Sayan added that measures, in case of further non-compliance, will include a 30 million lira ($3.5m) fine, a ban on advertisement and a 50 percent bandwidth cut within five months.
Companies that still do not follow the law will have their bandwidth slashed by 90 percent, he said, essentially blocking access.
If companies comply, Sayan said the restrictions will be lifted and a quarter of the imposed fine will be collected.
“Our aim is not to be in conflict with these providers serving billions of people around the world,” tweeted Sayan.
The legislation was passed in July, less than a month after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called for social media sites to be “cleaned up” as his daughter and son-in-law were insulted on Twitter following the birth of their fourth child.
Turkey has previously blocked sites including YouTube, Twitter and Wikipedia for what it claimed was offensive content.