Facebook reportedly silenced an enemy of Turkey to prevent hit on its business

Sheryl Sandberg and other top Facebook execs silenced a Kurdish group at the request of the Turkish government in a bid to protect its business in 2018, the New York Post reports.

According to ProPublica, Turkey, which was launching a bloody military offensive against Kurdish minorities in neighboring Syria, demanded that Facebook block posts from the People’s Protection Units (YPG), a mostly Kurdish militia group that the Turkish government had targeted.

Turkey considers the YPG a terrorist organization, although neither the US nor Facebook do.

In a series of newly disclosed emails from the company’s leadership, ProPublica revealed that there was no hand-wringing over the ethical dilemma. In response to Turkey’s demand that Facebook block YPG’s posts, Sandberg, the social media giant’s No. 2 exec simply wrote: “I am fine with this.”

The terse one-line email reply was not accompanied by any other thoughts.

The chairman of Turkey’s telecommunications regulator reminded Facebook “to be cautious about the material being posted, especially photos of wounded people,” wrote Mark Smith, a UK-based policy manager in an email to Joel Kaplan, Facebook’s vice president of global public policy. 

He also added that the government “may ask us to block entire pages and profiles if they become a focal point for sharing illegal content.”

Facebook’s eventual solution was to “geo-block” or selectively bar users in a geographic region from viewing certain content, should the threats from Turkish officials escalate.

“We strive to preserve voice for the greatest number of people,” a Facebook spokesman told The Post. “There are however, times when we restrict content based on local law even if it does not violate our Community Standards. In this case, we made the decision based on our policies concerning government requests to restrict content and our international human rights commitments. We disclose the content we restrict in our twice-yearly Transparency Reports and are evaluated by independent experts on our international human rights commitments every two years.”

According to the New York Post, Facebook’s regulatory filings suggest that cutting off revenue from Turkey could financially harm the tech giant.

Show More
Back to top button