As the Gezi protests grew bigger the government started looking for people to blame. When the usual suspects story – who would be people who allegedly drank beer in Dolmabahçe Mosque or protestors who allegedly attacked headscarf-wearing ladies failed, new enemies had to be found.
Those enemies were found in the digital world. First, Tayyip Erdoğan pointed out that Twitter is a menace. Then the government officials said they were thinking about blocking all social media outlets but they wanted to wait and see since they are real democrats.
After that the witch-hunt began. One by one the AKP people began to single out people who are influential over social media. First some newspapers released lists of digital agencies that were actively supporting resistors. Then they began to publish names that have sent social media messages that the government thought harmful.
All the while the NGOs of the industry sat silent. Only the ICT Journalists had the courage to make an official statement to say that social media cannot be blamed altogether.
The ICT NGOs are run by people who have interests with the government or have too much to risk by making statements to condemn targeting people by name. I understand their fear of losing. However their silence makes other people lose more than just money. The singled-out agencies and influential people might lose their lives. It has happened before in our country. So why are NGOs still silent? No one understands, but everyone I’ve talked to agrees that they have lost all their legitimacy. After all this, they are as good as nonexistent to many.
I am a member of Internet Advertising Bureau and every day I receive emails condemning a list of intellectuals too. It is the same letter sent by many different users listing people like Mehmet Ali Alabora, and they say that they don’t want to see them anywhere. They say that they don’t want us to use them in any advertisement.
I don’t know of any other democracy where people are being targeted so heavily. This must be what is called an “advanced democracy,” a term coined by Tayyip Erdoğan.
These are difficult times to be digital.
The full list:
Mehmet Ali Alabora
“Desperate Housewives” actors
“Benim İçin Üzülme” actors