Twitter should keep journalists’ accounts open and not become a tool of repression for Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan, considering that laws are often used to restrict freedoms rather than to protect them, an article by The Washington Post’s editorial board, titled “Twitter shouldn’t let itself become a tool for tyrants ” said on Thursday.
Underlining that Erdoğan’s massive crackdowns on critical media have been increasing since a failed coup attempt on July 15 for which Turkish president puts the blame on followers of US-based Turkish scholar Fethullah Gülen, The Washington Post editorial board noted that Erdoğan has been pressing Twitter to silence journalists.
“Twitter must resist more vigorously. Twitter is a powerful force for free expression. ‘The tweets must flow,’ the company likes to say. But they don’t always flow, as freedom of speech and democracy are in retreat around the globe,” the editorial board said.
According to The Washington Post editorial board, Twitter’s protective approach towards journalists, whose accounts were requested to be switched off by Turkish authorities, has changed since the coup attempt as new court orders were issued to silence accounts, some belonging to journalists from the newspaper, Zaman, close to the Gülen movement, which was seized in March and shuttered. “Twitter has switched off a number of the accounts — by one reckoning, several dozen.”
“One of them belongs to journalist Mahir Zeynalov, who was deported by Turkey in 2014 for his criticism and now writes for the Huffington Post and Al Arabiya. When a court ordered his English account shut in Turkey and Twitter did so, he and others protested, and it was unblocked. But now Mr. Zeynalov has found that, at the behest of a Turkish court, Twitter has blocked his Turkish-language account inside Turkey.”
Twitter says it follows the laws of a country when it gets “a valid and properly scoped request from an authorized entity.” But what happens when a law is used to silence political speech? Turkey has asked Twitter to restrict accounts more often this year than any other country in the world. According to Twitter transparency reports, Turkey made 2,493 requests covering 14,953 accounts, and Twitter complied 23 percent of the time.