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ERSU ABLAK >Internet trolls are harmful for Turkey

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According to Wikipedia: “In Internet slang, a troll (/ˈtroʊl/, /ˈtrɒl/) is a person who sows discord on the Internet by starting arguments or upsetting people, by posting inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community (such as a newsgroup, forum, chat room, or blog) with the intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal, on-topic discussion, often for the troll’s amusement. This sense of both the noun and the verb troll is associated with Internet discourse, but also has been used more widely. Media attention in recent years has equated trolling with online harassment. For example, the mass media have used troll to mean ‘a person who defaces Internet tribute sites with the aim of causing grief to families.’ In addition, depictions of trolling have been included in popular fictional works, such as the HBO television program The Newsroom, in which a main character encounters harassing persons online and tries to infiltrate their circles by posting negative sexual comments.”

We stumble upon an internet troll every now and then. Sometimes they bug us, sometimes they make us laugh. They may say something about your work, or the color of your hair or your very “fashionable” but also laughable shoes that you are very proud of. We accept them as we accept the thorns of a rose. As long as there are anonymous social media accounts, there will be trolls. However, the mass usage of thousands of troll accounts for political gains is one of the main weapons of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).

By means of fake accounts, members of the AKP have literally found the way to work social media for their benefit. 

Recently, we saw the respectable mayor of Bursa, Recep Altepe, caught red-handed when he posted a thank you tweet from his own account to himself instead of publishing it via a troll account. 

For the last six years, we have witnessed the complete destruction of any kind of fruitful social media discussion by armies of trolls if the discussion doesn’t go the way the government wants it to. 

It is the social media version of a lynching, with mobs attacking anyone who thinks differently than the government.

As Turkish citizens, we accepted this as we know that the other option that the government has is to close down all social media outlets in the country. It is better to have trolls than have no social media. 

However, the way the trolls operate and the manner in which they attack is getting out of control and someone should stop it.

The latest victim was a very unlikely one. He is a right-wing, conservative and nationalist entrepreneur employing seven workers. He is an ideal voter for the AKP. However, he made the grave mistake of asking about a blackout close to his workshop while mentioning the minister of energy. Immediately after that, the troll attack began. They accused him of being an outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) member, then they accused him of being a Fethullahist Terror Organization (FETÖ) member, then they told him that he belonged to a coalition of all of them as a Republican People’s Party (CHP) member and that he should be arrested, etc., etc. Can you imagine the horror he is in now?

It is obvious that these trolls are harming us. They must be stopped. The person who can do that is not me, it is not you; only a few people within the tight circle of the president can do that. Let’s see if they will.

January/12/2017

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