Social media war in Turkey*

The events of Gezi Parki last June saw the Turkish government to take hard line positions against the “anti-government propaganda” on social media, leading to multiple arrests in several cities  in addition to Istanbul, the center of the protests. The Government tried also to obtain, with little success , information from Twitter and Facebook users’ profiles (see “Twitter says NO to the turkish government ” ) and proposed draft legislation aimed at implementing a greater control over the social channels usage.

Something , however, has changed in recent months . In September, the Turkish media broke the news that the ruling  moderate Islamic party  (AKP) has created a team of 6,000 experts in order to set the agenda, lead the trending topic and check the criticism on social media.

In his article for Al -Monitor , the Turkish journalist Emre Kizilkaya , who is also the chairman at the Turkish National Committee of the International Press Institute in Vienna, reports the results of the investigation he conducted  (see AKP ‘s social meda wars ). As measured by Kizilkaya , at present the task force commissioned by the AKP would actually moving only in its infancy and the numbers of the “experts ” would be much lower than stated .

WakeUp Attack Twitter account

WakeUp Attack Twitter account

Despite the Anatolian Agency overs the presence of 4 groups of pro -government activists , there are few true influencer pro-government . One of these is the group Wake Up Attack who runs a Facebook page with 5,000 fans and four Twitter accounts in four different languages  with more than 12,000 followers . Through their own accounts, Wake Up Attack spreads infographics that “(target) those who criticize the government labeling them as (foreign) agents  or terrorists.”

From an operational point of view , the groups use the hashtag # AK ( abbreviation of the party) and # ekip (a turkish term to indicate team) to aggregate and connect the tweet. The investigation shows also a close relationship between the account and the party organs which , although not confirmed , it seems to be the direct promoter of these initiatives.

It seems, therefore , that Erdoğan and the AKP are preparing to occupy not only the traditional media , but also social media on which , in view of the elections of 2014 , could play a leading role.

*originally edited in Italian and published on Pionero.it

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