Turkey eyes taxing Twitter, Facebook

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Social media companies doing business in Turkey should pay their taxes to the Turkish government and set up an office within the country, according to Mehmet Simsek, Finance Minister of Turkey.

This includes US social media companies Twitter and Facebook, both of which have no office in Turkey.

“Many social media firms, including Twitter, are reaping unfair profits from Turkey and they aren’t paying taxes due on those gains. We see this as a serious problem,” said Simsek.

Simsek’s remarks came after Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan called Twitter a “tax evader.”

The Turkish government believes that Twitter makes around $35 million in ad revenue within the country, none of which is being taxed locally.

Company representatives including Colin Crowell, vice president and head of global public policy for Twitter, held talks with Turkish government officials on Monday and Tuesday, less than two weeks after the government lifted the ban on Twitter.

The Turkish government is not only looking to tax Twitter; it also wants the social network to implement Turkish court orders as well as allow account blocking, conditions that appear to be acceptable to the company.

In fact, an unnamed Turkish official reportedly revealed that the social network agreed to shut down certain accounts.

“The two sides understood each other fully after the presentations, and a decision was made to establish a system for cooperation in the future,” said the official.

The conflict between social media and Turkey began on 20 March, when Prime Minister Erdoğan vowed to “eradicate” the micro-blogging site and imposed a ban on Twitter.

However, the Constitutional Court ruled that the ban violated the free speech rights of the Turks and should therefore be lifted. The Turkish government begrudgingly complied with the order.

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