"Musk bows to Turkey's autocratic government, censors Twitter before critical election" - Popular Info
"Elon Musk, a self-described "free speech absolutist," agreed to censor Twitter in Turkey on Saturday, the day before a critical election, at the request of the nation's autocratic government. The decision is a sharp break from how Twitter responded to the censorship requests of the current regime, led by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, before Musk bought the company. Musk has lucrative business dealings with the incumbent Turkish government through his company SpaceX."
Why would a billionaire censor his social media platform? What Musk companies do business in Turkey? Who benefits by censoring news about the opposition candidate before an election? Follow the money with this relationship map based on the article by Popular Info.
Follow the money behind Twitter censorship
Tilted playing field
"Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has tilted the political playing field in his favor over the past two decades, concentrating power in his own hands...Mr. Erdogan, who has come to increasingly dominate the country over the past two decades, tapped the Treasury for populist spending programs and has raised the minimum wage three times in the last year and a half. His challenger barely appears on the state broadcaster while Mr. Erdogan’s speeches are aired in full. And this weekend’s vote will be overseen by an election board that, during recent votes, has made questionable calls that benefited the president.
Mr. Erdogan has extended his sway over the news media. Major news networks are owned by businessmen close to Mr. Erdogan while outlets that criticize his policies are often hounded with fines and lawsuits. A recent analysis of the state-funded broadcaster TRT found that in April, Mr. Kilicdaroglu received only 32 minutes of airtime. Mr. Erdogan got 32 hours. " - NY Times
Jimmy Wales, the co-founder of Wikipedia, disagreed. Wikipedia was banned in Turkey for nearly three years, beginning in 2017, after it "refused to delete articles critical of the country's government." Instead, Wikipedia challenged the Turkish government's actions in court. In January 2020, Wikipedia won, and access was restored. Wales argued that Wikipedia's actions demonstrated what it "means to treat freedom of expression as a principle rather than a slogan." - Twitter
Censorship on demand
"… since Elon Musk took over Twitter, promising a new era of free speech and independence from political bias. But Twitter’s self-reported data shows that, under Musk, the company has complied with hundreds more government orders for censorship or surveillance — especially in countries such as Turkey…" - Rest Of The World
- Most alarmingly, Twitter's self-reports do not show a single request in which the company refused to comply, as it had done several times before the Musk takeover.
- The orders vary widely in scope and subject, but all involve a government asking Twitter to either remove content or reveal information about a user. Get request data here
- Under previous ownership, Twitter actively resisted requests from many of these same regimes. For two weeks in 2014, the platform was banned from Turkey, in part due to its refusal to globally block a post accusing a former government official of corruption. (The executive who led that charge was Vijaya Gadde, one of the first executives fired after Musk took over.)
TakeAway: Beware of media platforms owned by billionaires promising Free Speech, but censoring content to help autocrats they do business with.
DISCLAIMER: ALTHOUGH THE DATA FOUND IN THIS BLOG AND INFOGRAPHIC HAS BEEN PRODUCED AND PROCESSED FROM SOURCES BELIEVED TO BE RELIABLE, NO WARRANTY EXPRESSED OR IMPLIED CAN BE MADE REGARDING THE ACCURACY, COMPLETENESS, LEGALITY OR RELIABILITY OF ANY SUCH INFORMATION. THIS DISCLAIMER APPLIES TO ANY USES OF THE INFORMATION WHETHER ISOLATED OR AGGREGATE USES THEREOF.