Pinterest jumps on bandwagon to appoint local representative to Turkey

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The popular image-sharing platform Pinterest has announced that it will appoint a local representative to Turkey in line with a controversial social media law that has brought giant social media companies to their knees, according to a statement from a Turkish deputy minister.

Turkey’s Transport and Infrastructure Deputy Minister Ömer Fatih Sayan announced on Friday on Twitter that with Pinterest’s decision, all social media companies which have more than 1 million users in Turkey have agreed to abide by the new social media law, which critics say will further curb freedom of expression in the country.

The law — which human rights and media freedom groups say amounts to censorship — compels social media companies with more than 1 million users to maintain representatives in Turkey to deal with complaints about content on their platforms.

Companies that refuse to designate an official representative are subjected to fines, followed by advertising bans, and could face bandwidth reductions that would make their platforms too slow to use. The ban is on selling online space for ads, which is a prime source of revenue for social media companies.

Twitter, which in addition to Pinterest and Periscope was subjected to advertising bans in January, decided last month to appoint a local representative to avoid the bandwidth reduction as well as the advertising ban.

Other popular social media companies such as Facebook and YouTube already announced their plans earlier to abide by the new social media law.

Under the law, local representatives of social media companies are responsible for answering individual requests to take down content violating privacy and personal rights within 48 hours or to provide grounds for rejection. The company would be held liable for damages if the content is not removed or blocked within 24 hours.

The law also requires that social media data be stored in Turkey, raising concerns in a country where the government has a track record of cracking down on free speech.

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