The Turkish government, led by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has influenced the removal of a YouTube channel based in Germany. For the first time, Turkey has been able to extend its strict censorship rules beyond its borders.
Bold Medya, a YouTube channel that was run by the International Journalists Association (IJA), was shut down. According to a report on the Turkish Minute, the removal was influenced by the Turkish government.
The IJA was established by Turkish journalists who fled to Germany to avoid prosecution. Bold Medya, one of IJA’s projects, gave independent journalists a platform to express themselves. In the two years the channel was live on YouTube, it had attracted more than 250k subscribers.
The channel, which was banned in Turkey in 2019, is no longer available on YouTube. According to the channel’s chief editor, Fatih Akalan, the Turkish government is manipulating YouTube’s policies to censor content it does not like. He claimed that the channel was doing a public service.
Social media expert Yasin Kesen says the Turkish government has resorted to dishonest methods to crackdown on free speech beyond Turkey’s borders. Kesen believes the government is collaborating with YouTube’s Turkey office to abuse the platform’s regulations and policies.
He pointed out that YouTube gives large production companies and TV channels, including the state-run Turkish media outlet TRT, access to its Content Management System (CMS). An organization with access to the CMS can directly take down content for copyright infringement. If a company violates copyright three times, it is removed from YouTube completely.
TRT, which is pretty much under the government’s command, has access to the CMS. The media outlet has reportedly been removing content the government does not like and citing copyright, even when there’s no copyright infringement.
“In reality, the deleted videos do not belong to TRT, and there is no copyright infringement. TRT has been engaged in this abuse for the past four-and-a-half years. When the right to CMS is misused three times, it should be revoked. YouTube’s Turkey office, however, has not barred TRT from the CMS panel despite the fact that the state-run channel has done it hundreds of times.
YouTube allowing its system to be employed in favor of Erdoğan’s censorship, and now this has gone beyond Turkey’s borders as Erdoğan has become able to use TRT to intervene against the exercise of free speech in other parts of the world,” Kesen explained.
“This situation has repeatedly been communicated to YouTube’s Turkey office, which does not respond, either by e-mail or by phone,” Kesen added. “Due to this obedience to TRT, the work and channels of exiled journalists, artists, and actors are being taken down.”
Kesen believes there’s no way YouTube’s Turkey office has not noticed TRT is abusing the CMS and manipulating YouTube’s policies in favor of the Turkish government.
“When we examine the cases, we see videos that in no way match up,” Kesen says. “It is inconceivable that YouTube’s Turkey office hasn’t noticed this. But there is certain cooperation with the regime that leads to the silencing of individual YouTubers, journalists, artists, critics, and relatively smaller channels.”