We, the undersigned academics, condemn Facebook for increasingly having exercised politicalcensorship against opposition Facebook group pages in Turkey. Over the course of Gezi Protests in Turkey, Facebook has blocked a considerable number of group pages that were created and followed by people who believed in the transformative political power of social media. Facebook has closed down many of these pages on the basis of groundless accusations such as containing pornographic and sexual contents. These pages were the key agents of social media-based political mobilization during the protest wave in Turkey in June 2013 and since then have been followed by high number of Facebook users. Among many others, these censorship policies have targeted Ötekilerin Postası (an activist group page with 138.000 followers), Peace and Democracy Party, BDP (The Kurdish Political Party with 32 members in the Parliament, with 181.000 followers), Sırrı Süreyya Önder (an opposition deputy in the Turkish Parliament, with 387.000 followers), Say No to Racism and Nationalism (Irkçılığa ve Milliyetçiliğe Dur De, an activist group page with 48.000 followers, closed in January)
We have deep suspicions regarding the existence of a possible collaboration between the Facebook Corporation and the Turkish government in order to silence the political opposition in Turkey. This suspicion has been strengthened especially after the Turkish Minister of Communication stated “Facebook, unlike Twittter, has been in coordination with us for a long time”. The number of pages that were closed down by Facebook has increased rapidly after this statement.
We, the undersigned academics, have been encouraging our students to use social media because we strongly believe in the emancipatory power of social media vis-à-vis conventional media outlets. The conventional media has failed to inform the public during the protests because of established cooperation with or strong pressure from the Turkish Government. In the meantime, for many people, social media has increasingly meant freedom of speech, grassroots democracy, unlimited capacity and enhanced desire to communicate on various aspects of their lives without any hesitation. Politics is one of these aspects of human life as much as culture, sports, and humor, which can easily find a place in Facebook. Unfortunately, facing the censorship policies by Facebook, we are feeling increasingly disappointed because of the threats and challenges to the above-mentioned emancipatory promise of the social media. The recent one-day boycott in Turkey against Facebook has shown the level of grievance for these censor policies among the general public.
We would like to remind Facebook that people now have the right to express their political views and organize their demands through social media and that the real addressees of Facebook is not the governments but the people.
We ask the Facebook Corporation to re-activate all of these opposition pages as soon as possible and to take necessary steps in order to ensure the continuation of freedom of speech in the social media, which has been under serious challenge from Facebook Turkey.
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