Instead of WhatsApp, the president and his entourage will in the future use encrypted services from the Turkish telecom provider Turkcell’s BiP messaging app. The change coincides with Erdogan’s broader campaign against social media platforms. According to critics, the Turkish president is trying to contain dissenting opinions.
Changes to WhatsApp’s terms and services will take effect on February 8th. It then becomes possible, among other things, to share the data with the parent company Facebook. Users have to agree to the new terms or else they will lose access to their WhatsApp accounts.
Billionaire tech entrepreneur and entrepreneur Elon Musk previously made a plea to switch to the rival app Signal. This has resulted in an increase in the number of new users of that service.
Turkcell reported a similar pattern in Turkey. In the past 24 hours, BiP has seen an increase in the number of users by about 1 million, according to the company. Turkcell said that since its launch in 2013, the app has been downloaded more than 53 million times. Erdogan also called on Turks to switch to BiP.
Previously, Turkey imposed a fine on social media companies for failing to appoint a local representative, as required by the new law. Activists accuse the president of increasingly authoritarian behavior. According to them, the required appointment of representatives is primarily aimed at making the platforms in Turkey unusable.
In Turkey, social media users are regularly arrested for insulting Erdogan on the platforms. Access to Twitter has been blocked in the country. Chinese company TikTok, previously fined, as Facebook and WhatsApp’s mother agreed last week to hire a local representative.
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