Ethics and rules of engagement on social media
Thanks to Donald Trump, social media users in the U.S. are starting to feel the heat that Turkish users have been feeling for many years. The most powerful man in the U.S. and his team are using Twitter for smear campaigns along with disseminating “alternative facts.” Turkish authorities have been doing that for a long time and many of them run troll accounts. I would not be surprised if Trump had already looked into the feasibility of having hundreds of trolls like his Turkish peers. However, as Turkey, we are always one or more steps ahead of the U.S. in leveraging social media in unthinkable and non-ethical means.
Yesterday I saw an advert on Facebook by Istanbul’s Ümraniye Municipality. Through the paid advert I learned that the municipality was promoting a game for the “Yes” vote for the upcoming referendum on constitution amendments. In the online game you try to put in as many “Yes” votes as you can into the ballot in a given time.
As soon as I saw this I got very angry because I could immediately see what was wrong with the whole thing. But, in Ümraniye, one of the biggest municipalities in Istanbul, there was no one who could stop this endeavor. So I decided to write about it. I hope that someone working at the municipality would read and react to my take on it.
I believe that it is very unethical for a municipality to be engaged so directly in any type of a voting process. It is unethical because the municipality is founded by the taxes of the people who live within its borders or with the money given to the municipality from our state. Our state is in turn fully founded by all of its citizens. Therefore, when a municipality is engaged, it should do so for everyone. The funny thing about voting is that there will always be people who are opposing to what you endorse.
The Ümraniye Municipality has paid the company that created the game and Facebook to market the game. They used our taxes to fund a project that is benefiting only one point of view.
This is as unethical as you can be if you are running a municipality.
Furthermore, as a municipality its first and foremost goal should be to serve people who live in Ümraniye. The constitutional voting is not only about Ümraniye, it is above municipalities. So the taxes of people who live in Ümraniye have been spent on a project that would not directly benefit the life in their district.
This too is as unethical as you can be if you are running a municipality.
I believe that anywhere in the world, be it in Turkey or the U.S., our leaders and politicians immediately require taking ethics and rules of engagement lessons on social media. We need to be on the same page about ethics.