The PJ Tatler

Turkey Tells Facebook to Nix Pages Insulting Muhammad; Facebook Quickly Complies

An Ankara court ruled late Sunday that Facebook would have to block pages “insulting the Prophet Muhammad” in Turkey, or face a complete blocking of Facebook access in the country.

The social media giant’s response to such censorship? Comply. Within a day.

From Hurriyet Daily News:

Facebook has blocked access to a number of pages in Turkey for “insulting the Prophet Muhammad,” following a ruling from an Ankara court. The move comes against the risk of the site being completely blocked in Turkey by the authorities.

The Gölbaşı Office of Penal Court of Peace ruled to block access to the pages late on Jan. 25, within the framework of a probe being conducted by prosecutor Harun Ceylan, the state-run Anadolu Agency reported.

The court also ruled that access to Facebook would be entirely blocked if the rulings for related pages are not implemented.

The court conveyed its ruling to both the Telecommunications Directorate (TİB) and the Association of Access Providers, an organization tasked with executing blocking orders as directed by TİB.

Facebook has not publicly commented. The Silicon Valley company has yielded to the pressure of Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Islamist government before, notes the New York Times:

“In comparison with Twitter and YouTube, Facebook cooperates with the Turkish authorities much better,” said Yaman Akdeniz, a cyberlaw professor at Bilgi University in Istanbul. “Therefore, it’s not surprising that Facebook removed these pages right away.”

The company’s most recent public report on compliance with government requests covers the first half of 2014. In that time, Facebook said, India asked the company to block almost 5,000 pieces of online content, the most of any country. Turkey was second, with nearly 1,900 pieces of content blocked at the government’s request, and Pakistan was third, at more than 1,700.

Facebook said that Turkish officials asked for details about local users of the service 249 times in the first half of 2014, and that the company complied in about three-fifths of the cases.

So Facebook will not only gladly hit the button when told to censor free speech, but make sure that the government has whatever information it needs about dissidents.