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Facebook denies handing over protester data to Turkish authorities

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Turkey protests
Turkey protests

Facebook just released a "fact check" statement rebutting claims attributed to a Turkish government official, who was reported as saying the company was cooperating with the Turkish government in handing over data on certain users who posted about the ongoing protests in the country. "Facebook has not provided user data to Turkish authorities in response to government requests relating to the protests," Facebook's rebuttal reads. "More generally, we reject all government data requests from Turkish authorities and push them to formal legal channels unless it appears that there is an immediate threat to life or a child, which has been the case in only a small fraction of the requests we have received."

Facebook's statement goes on to say that employees will be meeting with Turkish government representatives this week, and that they will describe Facebook's objections to proposed laws that would order social media companies to hand over such data. But Facebook, which is quite popular in Turkey, isn't the only social media website that the government has allegedly probed for user information. A report from the state-run Turkish news outlet Andalou Agency published early Tuesday, paraphrases Turkish communications minister Binali Yildirim as saying "government officials contacted many social media outlets and asked them for their cooperation."

"government officials contacted many social media outlets and asked them for their cooperation."

Though Facebook isn't mentioned specifically in the report, Twitter is said to have been one of the companies the Turkish government approached, but it reportedly resisted the government's demands. In an instance of seeming doublespeak, Yildirim also said that Turkey wouldn't try and restrict social media accounts, contradicting earlier statements by the country's deputy prime minister. The government has been trying to quell massive protests that began in Instanbul, the country's largest city, in late May, after police forcibly removed environmental activists from a public park. The protests evolved from there into a more general critique of the government's encroachment on individual liberties, and protestors and journalists took to social media to cover the events as they unfolded. The government has repeatedly accused some social media users of engaging in "criminal activity."