If you cannot handle it just forbid it

If you cannot handle it just forbid it

The government found a scapegoat for all the evil after alcohol, and it is social media. If only there were no Twitter, Turkey would be an exemplary democracy, the shining beacon for all who live in the Middle East. Alas, there are Internet connections and social media unfortunately…

The person who is the head of social media for the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), Ali Şahin, said a tweet might be more dangerous than a van filled with explosives. Actually from his point of view this is true. There was a van filled with explosives that exploded in Reyhanlı, killing many and it didn’t create this type of an upheaval in the country. The party somehow managed to surpass the negative public opinion but with the active usage of Twitter things got out of control.

After reading about Prism, I cannot tell that what the AKP is trying to do is the worst possible big brother operation in the world as whatever they do, they cannot match the “real” big brother, the U.S. However it is no reason to support a strong blow to social media in Turkey either.

Bloomberg’s Marc Champion writes that “Turkey’s Gezi Park protests have been a Twitter revolt, as distinct from the Facebook revolutions of the Arab Spring. It turns out that Twitter is now a better tool for social unrest – and provides better data about it.”

Ebrandvalue, an Istanbul-based company that analyzes social media data to measure branding power for companies, looked at the protests that have swept the country. It came up with a series of charts and graphs, using data from Twitter and Foursquare, the service that allows you to “check in” to locations. Foursquare tells us that the highest number of check ins about 6,000 was done in the 1st of June, after that they halved on the 2nd but began to rise as Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan kept his harsh language. The second important data is about the popular support. The company’s algorithm shows that of the Twitter users posting unique content with hashtags related to the protests, a huge majority did not support Erdoğan – by a margin of 68,000 to 800. Also, only a small minority of Twitter users had ever posted on political issues before. The biggest use of hashtags for a protest was not in Istanbul, a city of between 12 million and 15 million people, but in Tunceli, a province of about 80,000 people in central-eastern Turkey, often called by its historical name, Dersim. The third biggest regional hashtag usage, after Istanbul, was in Hatay province, on the border with Syria. About half of Hatay’s 1.5 million people are Arab Alawites, divided from their co-religionists in Syria only by a line on the map. Alevis and Alawites are close in religious terms, and both are upset with Erdoğan over what they see as his pro-Sunni policies in Syria, where the country’s Alawite minority supports President Bashar al-Assad’s regime against the mainly Sunni uprising.

These data puts many things into perspective. Why the AKP don’t like social media, why people are unhappy and why people of very different backgrounds united with the same request: More dialogue for a better democracy.

I know that the AKP is doing things to create a better future for all, they thought that their version of the future was the best of the best, now they saw that the future cannot be one dimensional. I want to believe that instead of creating an undemocratic law to ban everything in social media, they will listen and begin talking directly to the people.