A menace called Twitter
There are many differences between the Turkish Spring and the Arab Spring. This is an uprising, but it is an uprising not to take control of the state. It is a revolution to give the public its dignity and gain back power over politicians. Also, it is purely the Turkish public’s uprising. In the Arab Spring, the social media messages were mostly coming from the outside world; currently, 90 percent of all information spread over the Internet in regard to the protest is from within Turkey. The malfunctioning democracy and media caused people to create their own media and information outlets without getting any help from the outside world.
There were 1,599,977 #direngeziparki tweets up until June 3. Some 523,126 of those were on June 2 when the heaviest clashes occurred. Some 386,275 of those were photographs, 10,592 were videos. Only one-tenth were in foreign languages. There were just 318 tweets in Russian, for example.
That’s why people in absolute power have begun targeting social media, mainly Facebook and Twitter. It is interesting to see this kind of a reaction from those people who have been visiting Silicon Valley very frequently. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was there a couple of weeks ago, saying he wanted to see what was happening on the frontlines of the information age. But I think his tour organizers didn’t inform him well enough. At least his advisers could have told him that there are so many ways to get organized via the Internet that cutting Twitter wouldn’t even slow the movement.
The headline is a quotation from Erdoğan. “Social media is the worst menace to society,” he said after the public took control of Istanbul’s main square.
Then Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç said they had the power to cut all social media but added that they were watching for now as they are very democratic. I am sure that many of you haven’t seen such a solid example of an oxymoron for a long time. A true-hearted democrat wouldn’t even dream of cutting all the social media outlets even in their wildest dreams, let alone implying it to the public.
He then said people had begun to be arrested in İzmir for inciting a revolt with their Twitter posts. There are 24 people in custody as I write this column. They were taken in the evening and held in the police station overnight as there are too many suspects to be processed, meaning their turn wouldn’t come until the morning.
Yes, I didn’t see what they wrote on Twitter, so maybe they should be judged, but then it should be fair. I have seen thousands of social media messages from Justice and Development Party (AKP) followers urging the police to hit harder. Ankara Mayor Melih Gökçek wrote that they could drown all of us with their spit and that if people were old enough to protest, they were old enough to be punished. There is no news about him being called in for questioning.
Up until now, not a single technology NGO has issued a statement about all this.
When this peaceful transition to a new kind of government is completed, I promise to be a menace to all the people who exerted pressure on everyone and those who kept silent about it.
After all, what we do in life echoes in eternity.