The government’s social media legions are waging a war

The government’s social media legions are waging a war

The news of the government’s social media legions hit the news outlets about a month ago. When I heard about it I really didn’t care about it as much as I should have, because all of the governments have youngsters from their own party to produce social media content for them. The AKP is the most innovative political party in Turkey; they even have a Research and Development department. They have always used ICT in their benefit far more professionally than other parties. From the first day on with the leadership of Reha Denemeç, they have utilized data collection and data mining as best as it could have been used. Now a DYP veteran, Süleyman Soylu, is running that department. 

So I thought the AKP understood the importance of social media and they are going to take action about it, as any good party should when I heard the news of the social media legions to be established. I was happy about it in the sense that instead of being afraid and wanting to shut everything down, the government would learn and understand the freedom of expression over social media outlets. 

However, after two weeks of intense observation I am very disillusioned. I was hoping that the government would use the social media to collect information about why people are discontent and offer solutions. I thought that the young people would try to talk to people who are angry at the government and learn the reasons and maybe even try to talk them out of it in a nice manner. 

The reality, unfortunately, couldn’t be as far from my hopes. Instead of trying to unite people, the government’s legions are attacking and destroying. The name that they have given themselves is AK Gençlik which can be translated as the white or clean youngsters. Therefore, the name itself creates a division. Those who don’t belong to the clean youth are dirty. This emphasis is very strong in many tweets that these “AK” people send out to “other” people. 

There are hundreds of hate crime material in their tweets. For example a tweet that is being shared everyday reads “CHP cannot become successful until they clean KK under themselves” KK is the initials of Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, but when you read the initials in Turkish it becomes KaKa, which means sh*t in Turkish. So the tweet reads as, “CHP cannot become successful until they clean the sh*t (Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu) from under themselves.” I believe that this is really gross and inhuman. However I think that AKP is fine with it, as many semi-official Twitter accounts of AKP is constantly pushing for these types of tweets to be shared. In many accounts of AKP, a warning that reads, “We are watching all accounts closely and the ones that don’t share enough will be un-followed,” is issued several times a day. 

I don’t know how we came to this. I don’t know why we are turning every platform into a battle field. I cannot believe why and how a party, who has complete control over the state and who is very relaxed about the coming elections, resort to orderly social violence. I don’t see any sense and reason in it.