Politics

Turkey fines Twitter over “terrorist propaganda”

Leon Neal | AFP | Getty Images

Turkey's communications watchdog has fined Twitter for failing to block "terrorist propaganda" on the social media site.

An official from the country's information and communication technologies authority, BTK, originally told Reuters that the fine would amount of 150,000 Turkish lira ($51,000).

CNBC confirmed the news with a BTK employee in Ankara who refused to share their name. A Twitter spokesperson said there was no comment available as of press time.

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Ege Seckin, a Turkey analyst at IHS Country Risk, told CNBC that the fine was in relation to Twitter's delayed response in taking down photos of a prosecutor at gunpoint during a hostage incident back in March. The prosecutor, Mehmet Selim Kiraz, was later killed during the shootout with police.

Facebook also carried the content but reportedly managed to remove it within 24 hours.

It's the first time Turkey has tried to fine the social media site, and though the sum is relatively small compared to Twitter's $17.7 billion market cap, Secking called it a "symbolic and important development."

Turkish authorities have blocked Twitter and YouTube in the past, including ahead of local elections in 2014 after audio recordings allegedly exposing government corruption were shared online.

However, Ankara and Twitter have been cooperating over the past few months, in an attempt to avoid a total site shut-down over contentious tweets, Seckin explained, adding that Turkey also wants to avoid the reputational costs of railing against media freedoms.

Seckin said that Turkey is justified in wanting content like the hostage photos removed, but cautioned it was a slippery slope to greater government censorship.

"The government has step by step increased legal control over not only the internet but written press and TV. And for this purpose, we saw the adoption of several laws in 2014 that provided legal powers to do so," he said.

"It's difficult to draw the line."

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