Skip to main content


Turkey arrests over 78 for 'provocative' social media posts about earthquake 

At least 613 people were accused of making provocative posts that spread fear and panic among citizens

Earthquake in Turkey damages building
Terremoto en Turquía | Shutterstock

February 17, 2023 7:13am

Updated: February 19, 2023 7:05am

The Turkish government arrested at least 78 individuals for “sharing provocative posts” on social media regarding the 7.8 and 7.5 magnitude earthquakes that struck the country last week, reported Reuters. 

At least 613 people were accused of making provocative posts that spread fear and panic among citizens, according to Turkey’s General Directorate of Security. Authorities have started legal proceedings against 293, 78 of which have been arrested. Out of this group, 20 are being held in pretrial detention. 

The directorate added that 46 websites were shut down for running “phishing scams” that pretended to raise funds for earthquake victims to steal the donations. Additionally, 15 social media accounts pretending to work as official institutions were closed. 

In October 2022, Turkey passed a law under which journalists and social media users could face up to three years in prison for spreading “disinformation.”

The law raised concerns with human rights groups about free speech in the country, particularly because Turkey’s presidential and parliamentary elections will take place this summer. Turkey’s ruling party, however, has said that the law will not silence opposition. 

Last week, the Turkish government blocked the country’s access to Twitter for 12 hours, citing the spread of disinformation. According to the government, more than 6,200 items of false information and were were reported within a week of the earthquake. 

The death toll from the earthquakes that hit southeastern Turkey and northern Syria continues to increase as search and rescue teams continue to find more bodies buried under the rubble of collapsed buildings. Currently, the disaster is thought to have killed more than 41,000 people.