WHAT IS CRIME OF DEFAMATION?
Crime of defamation is considered an attack on personality rights and by punishing the crime of defamation; the values of honour, dignity, and prestige are safeguarded. Therefore, in our law, the “crime of defamation” falls under the heading “Crimes Against Dignity.”
The following is the definition of the crime of defamation in Turkish Penal Code Article 125: Any person who attributes an act, or fact, to a person in a manner that may impugn that person’s honour, dignity or prestige, or attacks someone’s honour, dignity or prestige by swearing shall be sentenced to a penalty of imprisonment for a term of three months to two years or a judicial fine. To be culpable for an insult made in the absence of the victim, the act should be committed in the presence of at least three further people.
Where the act is committed by means of an oral, written or visual medium message, addressing the victim, the penalty stated in the above paragraph shall be imposed.’’
WHAT IS CRIME OF DEFAMATION COMMITTED VIA SOCIAL MEDIA?
Through the expansion of communication tools, technological developments made communication with a larger audience possible. However, as technology advances, malicious use of technology increase; and large audiences are more likely to become victims of crime as a result of crimes committed via the internet.
The most common and easiest crime committed on internet platforms is defamation via social media. Defamation is an easy crime to commit on platforms where people can freely express their opinions through comments, posts, and private messages.
To be considered a crime, the act of defamation on social media must damage the honor, dignity, or prestige of one with insults or actions; these insults or actions must offend that person’s personality. Defamation via social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram makes the crime and victim’s condition public.
WHAT IS PUBLICITY OF CRIME OF DEFAMATION COMMITTED VIA SOCIAL MEDIA?
The penalty for defamation is increased by one-sixth when the crime is committed publicly. The crime of defamation is considered to be committed publicly if it is committed in an environment where an undetermined number of people can see, hear, or perceive the insult or action that is the subject of defamation. For the publicity to be a matter in crime of defamation the act must be made on a platform open to everyone without any restrictions. Because social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are considered “open to everyone,” the crime of defamation committed through these platforms is considered to be committed publicly.
WHAT IS THE STEP FOR GATHERING AND EVALUATING EVIDENCE FOR CRIME OF DEFAMATION COMMITTED VIA SOCIAL MEDIA?
It is critical to keep track of evidence pertaining to a crime of defamation committed via social media, such as screenshots, URL addresses, IP addresses, traffic information (log tracking), in order to prove victimhood. Because electronic evidences are easily harmed, changed, or completely deleted, they must be guaranteed safe.
WHAT IS THE PENALTY FOR CRIME OF DEFAMATION COMMITTED VIA SOCIAL MEDIA?
Crime of defamation is a type of crime that is subject to complaint. A complaint must first be made to competent authorities regarding the crime of defamation before criminal investigations of the culprit can begin and follow up with trials in penal courts.
If the crime of defamation is committed in a simple manner, the penalty is either a three-month to two-year prison sentence or a judicial fine. However, if the crime of defamation via social media involves publicity, the verdict is made by increasing the penalty by one-sixth.
WHAT IS CLAIM FOR DAMAGES CAUSED BY CRIME OF DEFAMATION COMMITTED VIA SOCIAL MEDIA?
As a result of the crime of defamation committed on social media, the victim may also seek material and moral compensation for their violated rights, as well as criminal proceedings. The rights and values of the person violated by the crime of defamation are values such as honor, dignity, prestije, reputation, and the victim has the right to demand compensation for unjust attacks against these values. Compensation cases should only be filed within the 1-year statute of limitations after the finalization of the criminal case filed for defamation.
WHAT IS THE STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS FOR CRIME OF DEFAMATION COMMITTED VIA SOCIAL MEDIA?
Because defamation is one of the crimes subject to complaint, the victim must file a complaint with the Public Prosecutor’s Office or the police within 6 months of learning that the crime occurred. Otherwise, the crime of defamation via social media will be considered time-barred, and no investigation or prosecution will be possible against the perpetrator. To be able to file a civil action for compensation for the victim’s violated rights outside of the criminal proceedings, the criminal proceedings must be finalized and demanded within the 1-year statute of limitations.
WHAT IS BARRING OF ACCESS PROCESS FOR CRIME OF DEFAMATION COMMITTED VIA SOCIAL MEDIA?
The crime of defamation via social media is committed if the defamatory act and words harm or offend the person’s honour, dignity or prestige. The act being have committed via social media makes the crime public. People who have been the victims of this crime may request that the publicity surrounding these acts against their personality and dignity be blocked. Victims’ personal rights are harmed by these acts of defamation, and the privacy of their private lives is also violated due to the publicity factor. As a result of these violations, victims may report the crime to security forces or the public prosecutor. They may also request removing and/or barring of access of the broadcast content involving defamatory words or acts on social media resulting in a violation.
In practice, there is a law known as the “Law on the Regulation of Broadcasts Made on the Internet and Fighting Against Crimes Committed Through These Broadcasts” which is numbered 5651.
Article 9 of the law numbered 5651 contains procedures for “Removing Content and Barring of Access”. Goes as; Real and legal persons, institutions, and organizations claiming that their personal rights have been violated as a result of the content of an Internet broadcast may apply to the content provider, or, if they are unable to reach it, to the hosting provider, requesting that the content be removed from the broadcast with a warning method, or directly to the criminal peace judge to have the content removed and/or access blocked. The requests of people who claim that their personal rights have been violated as a result of the content of the Internet broadcast are responded to within twenty-four hours at the most by the content and/or hosting provider. … The judge makes a decision on an application made within the scope of this article within twenty-four hours at the most; without holding a hearing.
Responsible individuals or institutions who fail to comply with a criminal peace judge’s decision to removal and barring of access to acts that constitute defamation that harms or offends people’s honor, dignity and prestige on social media in a timely manner may face a judicial fine of 500 days to 3,000 days.