Social media break Galata ‘sit-ban’
ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
No problems occurred during the World Social Media Day event, which was organized by the Institute of Creative Minds.World Social Media Day was celebrated in the square around Istanbul’s historic Galata Tower on June 30 as the tower became a large screen on which social media users debated Turkey’s nuclear energy plans. The activity also broke a recent ban on outdoor alcohol consumption, which has sparked a fierce debate, by permission of Beyoğlu Municipality and the Istanbul Police.
The municipality had removed the bench seating around the tower and surrounded the area with lines of tape in an attempt to keep people from gathering around the base of the tower. Locals had demanded the municipality ban alcohol consumption and noisy gatherings in the public area, saying these activities were causing a disturbance. No problems occurred during the World Social Media Day event, which was organized by the Institute of Creative Minds within the scope of Social/Ist 2012.
The moderator of the event, journalist Ahu Özyurt, said Beyoğlu Municipality and the Istanbul police gave the group permission to host the event in the square. “Using social media is something we do in our private spaces; for the first time [the Institute of Creative Minds] has taken social media to the streets in Turkey. Using social media on the streets may break down Turkey’s politically polarized way of using [social media],” Özyurt told the Hürriyet Daily News.
Özyurt did say Turkey is using social media in a more healthy way than were the Arab Spring countries, who accomplished their revolutions thanks in part to social media sites. “Those who would never talk before have begun interacting with each other on Twitter; for instance, secular people and religious people. Also we witnessed how effective social media was after incidents like the Van earthquake and the Uludere air raid. Compared to the Arab Spring we still have problems with organization, but Turkey’s people use [social media] in a … balanced way,” Özyurt said.
Participants in the Galata event joined an interactive debate online by sending tweets that were projected on the Galata Tower’s walls. The hash tag #notonuclearenergy became the highest-trending topic on Turkish Twitter during the event. Those who are against the use of nuclear energy beat out those in favor of nuclear energy in the end, with 92 percent of the tweets opposing nuclear energy and only 8 percent in support of it.