Facebook today released a statement saying it has not handed over any user data to Turkish authorities despite government requests to do so in relation to the ongoing protests in the country. Furthermore, the company says representatives of the Turkish government will be visiting its headquarters this week, during which senior Facebook officials will emphasize the importance of using legal channels for such demands.
Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has frequently condemned social media, blaming sites like Facebook and Twitter for helping organize protests against the government. Users of both services have been arrested and new legislation is being drafted to curb their use, though it’s unclear whether either response will have the desired impact.
Here is Facebook’s statement in full:
Facebook has not provided user data to Turkish authorities in response to government requests relating to the protests. More generally, we reject all government data requests from Turkish authorities and push them to formal legal channels unless it appears that there is an immediate threat to life or a child, which has been the case in only a small fraction of the requests we have received.
We are concerned about legislative proposals that might purport to require Internet companies to provide user information to Turkish law enforcement authorities more frequently. 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 time.
Facebook’s declaration is likely in response to reports that it is cooperating with Turkey’s government. Binali Yildirim, the country’s Minister of Transport, Maritime Affairs and Communications, said earlier today that Facebook had responded “positively” to an offer from the state, while Twitter rejected it, according to Anadolu Agency.
Turkey’s issues began when the government insisted on a brutal eviction of citizens participating in a sit-in at Istanbul’s Taksim Gezi Park, protesting its demolition. Activists have used Facebook and Twitter to communicate and post pictures of the events that began on May 28, even before the mainstream publications began their coverage.
This led Erdoğan to attack their use in a speech. “There is now a menace which is called Twitter,” he said. “The best examples of lies can be found there. To me, social media is the worst menace to society.”
Top Image Credit: Adem Altan / Getty Images