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Can Facebook Inc (FB), Twitter Inc (TWTR) Really Fight Authoritarian Turkish Gov’t?

Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) and Twitter Inc (NYSE:TWTR) are getting ready to battle the authoritarian government of Turkey, but can the social media giants really win?

In a report on CNBC, Courtney Reagan notes that both Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) and Twitter Inc (NYSE:TWTR) have vowed to challenge a court order issued by a judge in the country last week that compels the sites, along with over a hundred other sites, to remove an image of a government prosecutor being held at gunpoint by far-left militants.

Turkey has had a storied reputation of being strict in access to the Internet and what it deems to be permissible material that its citizens can view.

“The bottom line, Twitter and Facebook vow to appeal the court order, a perceived attempt to curb Internet access ahead of a June election,” Reagan says.

She notes, however, that Turkey has unblocked access to Twitter and YouTube which were briefly shut down in the past week.

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As an example of how tightly Turkey regulates Internet access in their country, a journalist named Yaşar Elma for a local newspaper in southeastern Turkey was recently jailed for liking a post on Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) that insulted current Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB)’s co-founder and current chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, has admitted in the past that policies of the country are difficult to navigate. He has admitted, for example, that the defamation laws of Turkey that protects its founder Mustafa Kemal Atatürk are part of “different legal and cultural environments” that his company needs to take into consideration when making their own policies governing their service.

Twitter Inc (NYSE:TWTR), on the other hand, is not foreign to fighting the Turkish government over what it deems as prejudiced censorship. In January, the social networking giant was legally fighting the country’s government because of a court order banning certain content from the site.

Because of the struggles of Twitter Inc (NYSE:TWTR) and other companies in the country, investors such as Greylock Capital have said that they are averse to buying the country’s stocks.

Stephen Mandel’s Lone Pine Capital owned about 13.5 million shares in Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) by the end of 2014’s December quarter, a 57% quarter over quarter increase. Daniel Benton’s Andor Capital Management owned 2.5 million Twitter Inc (NYSE:TWTR) shares by the end of the last quarter of 2014, a 57% decrease from 3Q2014 when it owned 5.75 million shares of the company.

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