Since the riots on the Capital Building, YouTube has been cracking down on the political spectrum. According to political analyst Julia Alexander, YouTube has both “removed a Trump video addressing the Capitol attack and a video of Trump giving love to rioters”. Regardless of how serious the website is handling politics, however, through an event associated with the Turkish government, YouTube is actually putting humans at risk rather than making a better change.
As it stands, democracy in Turkey is in great danger. It’s ruling party, led by Representative Tayyip Erdogan, silences marginalizes voices, journalists, and TV channels. According to the new Social Media Law passed a few ago, websites are “required a appoint a local representative wherein content removal demands and data localization mandates can be handled”. In other words, the decision to remove an online video based on its content is decided by the Turkish government, not by the YouTube staff. The Turkish would, in addition, report a $100,000 fine for failing to appoint a Representative to govern these laws.
In spite of these laws, however, YouTube is planning to establish a “legal entity” in Turkey, establishing shops in the region. What this means is that, now that YouTube is under Turkish jurisdiction, they must abide by Turkish standards. It is unclear, however, how YouTube will stand for or against these terms and conditions due to the lack of transparency on the decision. This is accentuated by the fact that Turkey has made numerous attempts to control YouTube content such as pressing charges when the website does not abide by their laws, even though the countries are distinct.
Furthermore, the Turkish government has established a comprehensive project called EngelliWeb which, according to the document, “keeps statistical records hitherto the content removal and censorship of Internet activity, thus reporting it to the confines of Turkish territory.” This concept is quite chilling because it denies freedom of expression not only through deleted it, but also through reporting it to the authorities to ensure it could never be shown again.
The fact that YouTube would side with the Turkish government, despite their enactments, is quite squirming. Depending on Turkey’s influence, YouTube may transfer these policies onto American soil, which can violate our freedom of expression and freedom of speech rights protected by our First Amendment. It is unknown how YouTube will adjust to these Turkish policies, but it is best that the Turkish government refrain from imposing unfair sanctions on Internet platforms. Peer pressure may just be America’s downfall.