Defying social media rules could see end of Facebook in Turkey: Industry expert

At 37 million, statistics show Facebook to have more users in Turkey than in any other European country. (Shutterstock)
Short Url
Updated 09 October 2020

Defying social media rules could see end of Facebook in Turkey: Industry expert

  • Controversial new regulations went into effect on Oct. 1 amid criticism over censorship

ANKARA: Social media giant Facebook’s decision not to appoint a company representative in Turkey could mark the beginning of the end for the platform in the country, according to an industry expert.  

New Turkish government regulations, which went into effect on Oct. 1, require all social media firms to open an office or face a hefty fine, an advertising ban, and data restrictions.

Representatives must also be a Turkish citizen, and user data on the networks has to be stored in Turkey.

At 37 million, statistics show Facebook to have more users in Turkey than in any other European country.

But Suleyman Irvan, a professor of journalism at Uskudar University, told Arab News that if Facebook stuck to its reported stance, Turkish users could eventually see the platform’s demise.

Analysts believe that Facebook’s move could also influence the decisions of other social media companies, including Twitter, over whether or not to have legal representation in Turkey.

Under the new Turkish rules, firms not having opened an office in Turkey by Oct. 1 will have to pay a fine of 10 million Turkish liras ($1.26 million) by November, which if unpaid will triple in December. Further refusal to comply would result in an advertisement ban in January next year, and bandwidth being gradually slashed by up to 90 percent until May (which would lead to a post taking about 15 minutes to open).

In a tweet, cyber rights expert Yaman Akdeniz, said: “Although it is a matter of curiosity about how the government will react, if you put a stick on the table without taking the opinions of the stakeholders and pass a very problematic law in terms of fundamental rights and freedoms just in 10 days, the result will be as such.”

The regulation also provides social media users with the opportunity to report content, obliging social media representatives to investigate claims within two days and either remove “unacceptable” items or face a 5 million lira fine.

“Social media giants may have been concerned over this clause because they will have to remove all dissident content if they open a representation office,” Irvan said.

In a country where censorship and the absence of impartial media have become the norm, this clause is believed to have influenced the decision of Facebook. However, the Turkish government said the requirements were aimed at “establishing commercial and legal ties” with the social media platforms.

Turkey’s media watchdog RTUK recently imposed a fine on broadcaster Halk TV over a program in which a journalist went beyond “the boundaries of criticism” with remarks on Azerbaijan’s state of democracy.

RTUK said the penalty was also to show to the world Turkey’s support for Azerbaijan in its conflict with Armenia over the Nagorno-Karabakh region.

“If social media giants end their operations in Turkey, it will also deal a major blow to the media sector, as Turkish people more and more use social media platforms to follow up objective news,” Irvan said.

Isik Mater, a digital rights activist and research director at the NetBlocks monitoring group, told Arab News: “The administrative fees are relatively insignificant in the eyes of these social media giants.

“However, although they risk being deprived from advertisement revenues and bandwidth, Facebook seems to be determined in this decision and I expect that it will be followed by other social media giants as well.”

Turkey ranked among the top 10 countries for users of the social media networks Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, a survey by London-based We Are Social revealed in February.

Dr. Sarphan Uzunoglu, editor-in-chief of NewsLabTurkey, a digital journalism academy, said Facebook’s decision was not just about the company itself but the future of already oppressed communities and professional groups in Turkey.

“Having a representative here would make Facebook more responsible about user-generated content, which is a problematic content type big technology companies love but try to avoid the responsibility about the most.”

He noted that Facebook’s move could trigger a broader debate on the taxation of media actors and professionals.
 


Publicis Groupe veteran Kamal Dimachkie leaves as new successor is named

Updated 1 min 32 sec ago

Publicis Groupe veteran Kamal Dimachkie leaves as new successor is named

  • Dimachkie’s career spans three decades of leadership and accomplishment in international and regional markets
  • Shoueiry founded the agency’s Social Content Lab and played a key role in cultivating digital design thinking across the region

RIYADH: Publicis Groupe MEA today announced the departure of Kamal Dimachkie, chief operating officer, Publicis Communications, UAE and Lower Gulf. Dimachkie is a senior executive who joined Leo Burnett in February 1985. The company has appointed Samer Shoueiry to assume the role in conjunction with his current responsibilities as chief digital officer, Publicis Communications, Middle East from Dec. 1. Dimachkie’s decision to leave comes after 33 years with the company. He will leave his current position on Dec. 31 and continue to act in a consultative capacity until June 2021 in order to ensure a smooth transition.

Dimachkie’s career spans three decades of leadership and accomplishment in international and regional markets including the US, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait and the UAE.

Raja Trad, executive chairman at Publicis Groupe MEA said: “I respect Kamal’s decision. He has been a friend and a colleague for over three decades, and not just I but the entire Publicis Groupe family will miss him. His tenure at the Groupe has been characterized by a clear commitment to values that are central to our philosophy. Kamal’s adept leadership propelled the agency to new heights — we won more than 250 accolades and added numerous international and local clients to our roster. I want to thank him for his immeasurable contribution to the Groupe and wish him all the best for his professional future.”

Dimachkie added: “Leo Burnett and Publicis Groupe have been my life for the past 33 years, and I am proud to have been a part of a glorious journey during which I have had the opportunity to serve the company in different roles in six countries, to have contributed to numerous clients and raised the bar internally and within the industry. Part of this has been the joy of working with a wonderful team and leadership, whom I have partnered with, learnt from and shall forever call my friends and brothers in arms. I am grateful to have lived the glory days of advertising with one of the best agencies in the world and to have worked with some of the most inspiring and creative people. I look forward to working with Samer on the upcoming transition and wish him success in his new role.”

Shoueiry, who will take on Dimachkie’s role, has over 21 years of experience across business, design and innovation. He has consistently delivered a robust performance in Publicis’ Experience Design and Experience Strategy, founded the agency’s Social Content Lab and played a key role in cultivating digital design thinking across the region.

Commenting on his appointment, Trad said: “Samer has a record of leadership and value creation, deep experience in generating groundbreaking brand experiences, as well as a focus on strategic design, innovation excellence and a strong technological footing. I look forward to continuing to work closely with him to drive our digital transformation in the region and support the spread of innovation through investments in our people, technology, platforms and tools. Together, we will ensure that we continue to move our business forward in the Connected Age through a data-led, digital-first approach.”

Shoueiry further added: “Kamal has built a strong foundation for future growth, including strengthening our team and expanding our scope of work. The current climate has accelerated digital transformation globally, and we are looking at a future where online and offline coexist to augment consumer experience in an interconnected brand universe. E-commerce is a necessity, digital equities are your flagship stores, search and social your new outdoor. With this new beginning, I will focus on further strengthening our creative strategy-to-results development to offer the best consumer-centric experiences and build brand value.”