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Monday, July 1, 2013

What Role Has Social Media Played in the Recent Turkish Protests?

Turkish protest in Trafalgar Square.
Turkish protest in Trafalgar Square. (Photo credit: asmythie)
IU News & Talk Guest Post
This was a contribution by How2become

Social media plays a role in many facets of an overwhelming amount of the population on a daily basis. People look to social media for information, education, interaction, and on many occasions for developments in the news both local and global.

Many times people look to social media to convey a message that is important to them and that they want to be able to spread further than the reach of their personal limitations of his or her network. Over the last 5 years, people have been turning to social media in order to perpetuate political or extreme social measures.

Protests are specifically trying to reach out to the public by accessing the public’s attention by using sites like Facebook and Twitter. This, in turn, means that many of the world’s governments – especially oppressive regimes, are struggling to keep control on their citizens and keep the eyes of the world out.

Turkish Protests

Beginning on 31 May 2013 there were protests in Turkey which started an anti-government movement that is being fueled everyday with new information and support from people via social media. The protesters are looking to Twitter to update the public on the conditions and developments of the anti-government movement.

The Prime Minister has looked to the police force to extinguish the dissent of the public and government interaction; however, the social media blitzes are fueling the fire and keeping the protests as alive as ever. The government is not at the point that they are thinking about banning Twitter all together; however, they are at a point where they are considering limiting the use of Twitter in order to get the protests under control.

What Censorship Measures Are the Turkish Government Taking About?

The first measure of monitoring Twitter usage is to ban the ability to open “fake” twitter accounts. No longer will people in Turkey be able to open “fake” accounts and make inflammatory or instigating comments about the protests. This will help the government to be able to focus their efforts toward trying to stop the protests and get everything under control again.

If they are able to narrow down where the majority of the protests’ fire is coming from, then they will be able to hold people accountable for unacceptable behaviour. They claim that hundreds of thousands of “fake” Twitter accounts have been created since 31 May 2013 and this is causing a problem for their investigation efforts.

The biggest fear of the Turkish government is that social media has the ability to “provoke great masses” and if this is going to be the case, then the protests could really start to get even more ugly. The government seems to want to get things under control and be able to resolve the differences between the government and its people without a bigger problem than is necessary.

The protests in Turkey have been greatly affected by the use of social media like Twitter. Twitter has enabled the protesters to access the attention of the world without needing a local or global news station to even cover the story. Social media has further enabled the protesters to reach out and get support from various sources and given them the power to organize impactful events.

We have already seen in the past how especially oppressive governments aim to sanction the use of social media sites – Turkey’s response in comparison to countries such as Iran and Syria could be said to be somewhat tame, thus far.

Richard McMunn is the founder of How2become.com and the author of this post. Richard spent 17 years in the Fire Service and now provides specialist recruitment training for those looking embark on a public sector career. You can also connect with How2become on Twitter

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