‘Social media platforms must be reined in via laws’

With social media companies becoming overwhelmingly powerful, making it easy for them to abuse this power, countries must create their own social media laws, said a digital communications expert.

It is very important to keep citizens’ personal data within their country, and the European Union has also created the General Data Protection Regulation to safeguard personal data, Nabat Garakhanova told Anadolu Agency.

Touching on Turkey's new social media law which went into effect on Oct. 1, she said social media networks have become platforms for bullying, but when they appoint representatives in Turkey, the country is able to reach the representative and resolve potential problems.

Last week, the Turkish Information and Communication Technologies Authority (BTK) fined several foreign social media companies 10 million Turkish lira ($1.19 million) each for not hiring local representatives.

They included Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Periscope and TikTok, which are accessed over 1 million times a day from Turkey, while Russian site VK escaped the fine by appointing a representative.

Garakhanova stressed that Twitter fulfills a very small part of court orders. While Turkey asked Twitter to ban 8,993 accounts, the firm only made 264 accounts and 230 tweets invisible in Turkey.

"If Twitter and other firms have representatives in Turkey, they will have to comply with the court decisions," she added.

Nearly all social media firms are based in the US, and the most-used ones are under the umbrella of Facebook, she noted.

Garakhanova stressed that just as every country has drafted constitutional regulations over the years, similar regulations are needed for social media.

"Social media platforms are resisting for appointing responsible representatives, creating offices or paying taxes all around the world, not just in Turkey," she underlined.