Instead of WhatsApp, the president and his entourage will use the encrypted services of Turkish telecom provider Turkcell’s BiP messaging app in the future. The change coincides with Erdogan’s broader campaign against social media platforms. Critics say the Turkish president is trying to contain dissenting opinions.
The changes to the WhatsApp terms and services will take effect on February 8. Then it becomes possible, among other things, to share data with the parent company Facebook. Users must agree to the new terms or they will lose access to their WhatsApp accounts.
Billionaire and tech entrepreneur Elon Musk previously made a call to switch to the competing Signal app. This has led to an increase in the number of new users of this service.
Turkcell reported a similar trend in Turkey. In the past 24 hours, BiP has seen the number of users increase by around 1 million, the company reports. Since its launch in 2013, the app has been downloaded more than 53 million times, Turkcell said. Erdogan also called on the Turks to switch to BiP.
Previously, Turkey fined social media companies for failing to appoint a local representative, as required by a new law. Activists accuse the president of acting more and more authoritarian. According to them, the mandatory appointment of representatives is mainly aimed at rendering platforms in Turkey unusable.
In Turkey, social media users are regularly arrested for allegedly insulting Erdogan on the platforms. Access to Twitter in the country has been hampered. Chinese TikTok, who like WhatsApp Facebook’s mother had previously been fined, agreed last week to appoint a local representative.
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