In a statement at an election rally recently, according to AFP, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan (pronounced ER-doo-won) continued his attack on sites like Twitter, Facebook and Youtube, saying , “I cannot understand how sensible people still defend Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. They run all kinds of lies.”
Either Erdogan himself is fundamentally unfamiliar with the concept of social media and how it works, or he thinks that the kind of voters who support him are.
Erdogan is more of an Islamic traditionalist than his political opponents. Many see his angle of attack on social media as shrouded in the kind of “rally against an external enemy” common in fundamentalist thought. But even if this is his line of appeal to the faithful, his opponents see a much simpler cause behind Erdogan’s recent attempt at “banning” Twitter in his country.
Erdogan and his friends in the Turkish government have come under scrutiny for corruption. Twitter, YouTube and other social media staples have been a handy platform for materials, including audio recordings, that seem to prove these accusations. He wants them shuttered. He calls this exposure in social media a “dirty operation to tarnish the government.”
Erdogan sees himself as “the government.” He said that he is action to oppose “any attack threatening my country’s security,” when the security threatened is his own. He speaks of “state secrets” being revealed on Twitter, but it is his own association with corrupt officials that is being spread on social media.
He frames his difficulties as some moral struggle that his people have to contend with.
“If Twitter acts honestly, we are ready to support it. If YouTube acts honestly, we are ready to give every support. If Facebook gives up immoralities… it will receive support,” he said.
In contrast, Turkey’s President Abdullah Gul sees this all as ridiculous, hurting his country’s standing in the world community, taking them back to a darker, fundamentalist time when freedoms of speech and expression were squelched.
“I believe this problem will be over soon,” Gul said in an interview. “This is of course an unpleasant situation for such a developed country as Turkey, which has weight in the region and which is negotiating with the European Union.”
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