January 11, the Turkish Competition Authority launched an antitrust investigation into the data privacy of the American social media giant Facebook (Facebook) and its instant messaging software WhatsApp.
According to data analysis company Sensor Tower, the number of new installations of WhatsApp worldwide fell by 11% in the first seven days of 2021 compared with the previous week, but the global downloads are estimated to remain at 10.5 million.
Facebook is accused of “double standard”
“As we mentioned in the Information and Communication Security Guidelines, foreign applications have significant risks to data security.” Ali Taha Koç, head of the Turkish Digital Transformation Office, tweeted on the 9th, “We must use local applications to protect our digital data. Native applications can better present whatever foreign apps offer.”
Koch also stressed that “the difference between EU member states and other countries in terms of data privacy is unacceptable.” Facebook has also faced criticism from EU countries in terms of competition and privacy policies.
However, Facebook has said that after negotiations, data privacy policies for EU countries and the United Kingdom will not be changed, which Turkey regards as a double standard.
While the Turkish Antimonopoly Commission investigated Facebook and WhatsApp, the Turkish government also called on people to uninstall WhatsApp, and government and military officials began to take the lead in relocating accounts.
According to the Turkish government media office, journalists will be updated through BiP, an application owned by Turkcell, a Turkish telecommunications company, from the 11th.
It is worth noting that the Turkish sovereign wealth fund chaired by Turkish President Erdoğan owns a majority stake in Turkcell.
According to data shared by Turkcell, BiP gained 1.12 million users in just 24 hours from the 10th to the 11th.
According to the Turkish Anatolu News Agency, Telegram, the Russian instant messaging software, has become the most downloaded instant messaging application in Turkey on Apple App Store as users continue to uninstall WhatsApp.
The second place is Signal developed by an independent non-profit organization in the United States, followed by BiP in Turkey. In terms of Android users, Telegram ranks first in downloads on the Google App Store, followed by WhatsApp and BiP.
Turkish Radio and Television International Channel reported that many Turkish users have begun to condemn WhatsApp’s new data policy on social media, and the topic #WatsAPPsiliyoruz (we are deleting WhatsApp) has entered Turkey’s Twitter hot list.
Haluk Bayraktar, the CEO of Turkish drone manufacturer Baykar, who has a lot of followers on Twitter, said on Twitter that he will uninstall WhatsApp and recommend that Turks use BiP, which is independently developed in the country.
Turkey’s “war” with the American social media giants
Since last year, the Turkish government began to tighten its control over social media.
The survey WhatsApp is not the first time Turkey has fought against the American social media giant.
On July 29 last year, the Turkish Parliament passed a social media bill giving the Turkish government greater control over social media.
Under the new bill, social media giants such as Facebook and Twitter must ensure that they have local representation in Turkey and comply with Turkish court orders to delete certain content, or face huge fines.
The bill also stipulates that the data of Turkish users must be stored locally in Turkey.
The bill, which targets social media websites with more than 1 million independent visits a day, came into effect on October 1 last year.
According to Bloomberg, according to the new law, if social media does not comply with Turkish court decisions or delete content as required by judges, the Turkish government will reduce the traffic bandwidth of illegal social networking sites by 90%.
Violation of the law may lead to a fine of up to 1 million lire (about RMB 880,000).
Turkey has fined Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and several other world’s largest social media platforms since November last year.
YouTube, which is also a U.S. platform, announced its compliance with Turkish laws and opened an office in Turkey last December.
Dailymotion, a French video social platform, and TikTok, a short video application owned by ByteDance in China, have also announced the establishment of local representatives in Turkey.
The Turkish government believes that the social media bill is to protect about 55 million social media users in the country from false information.
However, some critics have expressed concern about this, believing that Turkey’s future space for free public debate will be further reduced.