In Turkey, religious values ​​are used to censor online content

By Arzu Geybullaeva | –

(Globalvoices.org) – Turkish authorities have been increasingly censoring online content that does not align with Turkey’s religious, moral and family values ​​in recent years. The most recent example is an investigation launched by Istanbul’s General Prosecutor’s Office against Spotify.

The prosecutor’s office says Spotify approved the names of the playlists.

The Bureau claims the music streaming platform endorsed playlists that “insulted religious values ​​and state officials.” According to reports, the decision to launch the investigation came after “the Presidential Communications Center received a large number of complaints that the playlists encouraged Islamophobia by insulting religious values ​​and state officials. “.

Some of the playlist names include “Songs that Recep Tayyip Erdogan listens to while drinking raki”, “Songs that God listened to while throwing Adam out of paradise”, “Songs that Prophet Ali listens to while driving at high speed” and a podcast titled “Devlet Bahceli [leader of National People Party] concept hotel, Love with a girl wearing Shakira belt,” according to Bianet reporting. It’s not the songs in particular, but the names of the playlists that are drawing the wrath of officials.

The prosecutor’s office says Spotify approved the names of the playlists, but under Spotify’s rules, an individual user can create as many playlists as they want without Spotify’s approval or oversight.

A Twitter user share the names of other playlists as well, among them “God’s ringtone” or “Eve did not hear God’s announcement about forbidden fruits because she was listening to this playlist”.

Others joked on the following other platforms:

⏰😸windows, excel and winzip are next!

Fear us!

Spotify is under investigation for allegedly ‘insulting religious values ​​and heads of state’. The Istanbul Prosecutor General’s Office has launched an investigation against Spotify because of the names of the playlists.

of course we will investigate spotify when we have no problem thanks to our stellar justice system.

Spotify has learned its lesson from Gen Z humor when creating playlists. Its leaders must be in shock, as this is probably the first time they have faced an investigation of this nature.

This isn’t the first time Spotify has found itself in hot water in Turkey. In May 2021, the platform was ordered to remove “inappropriate content” from its site. In an interview with ArabNews, Cathryn Grothe, research associate at Freedom House, said: “Streaming services like Spotify create a unique space where people can express themselves, connect with loved ones and friends on shared music or podcasts, and engage on a range of important issues, including human rights and politics.

Screenshot of the official Jurassic World Camp Cretaceous trailer from Netflix via YouTube

Also in August 2022, the Chief Censor of the Radio and Television Supreme Council of Turkey (RTÜK) launched an investigation into Netflix’s Jurassic World Camp Cretaceous anime series. “We are determined not to allow content that could negatively impact our children and young people and that does not respect our values”, tweeted the head of RTÜK, Ebubekir Sahin. The show would feature LGBTQ+ characters.

In December 2021, RTÜK fined Netflix for the film “The More the Merrier”, claiming that its plot and characters were immoral. The chief censor said the film was “based on fiction in which homosexuality, incest relationships and swinging are intensely experienced”. In addition to being fined, the streaming platform was ordered to remove the film from its platform in Turkey.

In 2020, Netflix said it would not proceed with the local production of a film called “If only” (Simdiki Aklim Olsaydi) because RTÜK did not approve the script for the show in which one of the characters was gay.

In 2019, RTÜK was granted the power to monitor online broadcasting ranging from on-demand platforms such as Netflix to regular and/or scheduled online broadcasts to amateur videographers. Since then, online broadcasters must obtain a license from RTÜK, which means the organization frequently censors or rejects content it disapproves of. Netflix applied for a license the same year, while Spotify did so in October 2020 after RTÜK threatened to ban them otherwise.

Arzu Geybullayeva is an Azerbaijani columnist and writer, specializing in digital authoritarianism and its implications for human rights and press freedom in Azerbaijan.

This post is part of Advox, a Global Voices project dedicated to protecting freedom of expression online. All Posts

Written by Arzu Geybullaeva

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