78 arrested for social media posts
Turkish police said they have arrested 78 people accused of spreading fear and panic through "provocative posts" on social media about last week's earthquake. twenty of them have been remanded in custody as the death toll from Turkey's devastating earthquake has exceeded 35,000.
Turkey's General Directorate of Security said it has identified 613 people accused of making provocative posts, and legal proceedings have been initiated against 293. Of this group, the chief prosecutor had ordered the arrest of 78.
The directorate added that 46 websites were shut down for running "phishing scams" trying to steal donations for quake victims and 15 social media accounts posing as official institutions were closed.
Last October, Turkey's parliament adopted a law under which journalists and social media users could be jailed for up to three years for spreading "disinformation", raising concerns among rights groups and European countries about free speech, particularly ahead of presidential and parliamentary elections due this summer.
Last week Turkey blocked access to Twitter for about 12 hours from Wednesday afternoon to early Thursday, citing the spread of disinformation, prompting an angry response from opposition politicians and people using the platform to find loved ones and share information about rescue efforts.
Turkey's Communications Director Fahrettin Altun tweeted on Monday that Turkey was experiencing "serious information pollution" and authorities would share a daily bulletin correcting false information.
Within a week of the earthquake, some 6,200 items of false information and news were reported to the government, Altun added.