Turkish government officials are investigating Twitter and similar social media platforms in an attempt to identify and eventually prosecute the organizers of mass demonstrations, Erodgan administration officials said this week.
In the latest attack on social media’s role in protests, the country’s Transportation and Communications Minister Binali Yildirim called on social media networks on Friday to cooperate with authorities in the probe.
Authorities have scoured social networks searching for protest leaders since national unrest began on May 28 at a rally in Instanbul’s Taksim Square. Police have turned over at least 35 names to prosecutors in the city, according to Turkey’s Aksam newspaper.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government has taken international criticism for the brutal police crackdown on protesters in the past month. The prime minister himself, when the rallies began, branded Twitter a ‘troublemaker‘ used to spread ‘lies.’
He previously banned YouTube for two years beginning in 2008, citing the widespread presence of obscene material.
Erdogan’s deputies expressed hope that Facebook would allow them to comb through data and identify possible demonstration organizers. Facebook released a statement this week denying the disclosure, though, of any information to the government and expressing concern about future requests.
‘We will be meeting with representatives of the Turkish government when they visit Silicon Valley this week, and we intend to communicate our strong concerns about these proposals directly at that that time,’ Facebook said in a statement.
Turkish Minister of Transport, Maritime Affairs and Communications Binali Yildirim added that Twitter has not shown a ‘positive approach‘ despite ‘necessary warnings‘ from Turkey. He said that the Turkish government has asked Twitter, along with other social media sites, to set up a representative office inside the country.