Online Censorship in Russia and Turkey
Russia and Turkey have been cracking down on social media in their crusade against free speech and journalism. Both countries seek to get social media platforms to comply with government requests or punish journalists if they cannot stop them from posting.
Russia has been using legislation and security agencies’ powers to prevent “undesirable” content online, not only against journalists but also regular citizens. Journalists can be charged huge fines and be jailed on charges of “spreading fake news” for reporting the news. Turkey, where 97 percent of media are in government hands, has followed a similar course through increasingly harsh treatment of journalists and most recently with new legislation that will cut off bandwidth of platforms who do not comply with government requests. Both countries have adopted restrictive legislation. Russia has given the government body Roskomnadzor (RKN) and Turkey has given the Supreme Radio and TV Supervision Board (RT K) broad social media censorship powers.
This online censorship is worrying as in both countries social media remains the only influential sphere left for the dissemination of independent information and the mobilization of civil society. How can journalists reach their audience without bowing to censorship in the two countries where recent legislations threaten online space for exercising the right to free speech?