Turkish President Gül hosts fellow twitterers, talks about social media restrictions
President Abdullah Gül hosted fellow twitterers during a lunch organized at the presidential palace in Ankara. Devout social media-philes discussed internet freedoms while they were eating and tweeting. AA photoPresident Abdullah Gül hosted Turkish social media experts and fellow Twitter users in the presidential palace at Ankara on Jan 29. During this informal social media lunch, the president, who is himself a devout Twitter user, discussed the problems surrounding Internet regulations in Turkey with his guests.
Hakim Türkmen, who gave himself the nickname “brainless man” and currently has more than 250,000 followers on Twitter, said after the rendezvous that Gül had expressed his commitment to do everything in his power to ease regulations online. “He is very interested and informed regarding this subject. He acknowledges that when it comes to the web the judicial infrastructure is inadequate and thinks that [they] should act more quickly [to resolve this question],” said Türkmen.
The reunion was organized in the style of a “family lunch,” Türkmen said, adding that his own presence meant the presidency at Çankaya was officially “open to the public.”
The president, whose personal Twitter account is @cbabdullahgul, has more than 2.750 million followers. Gül is one of the more active chief’s of state, sharing more than 1,000 tweets since activating his official account.
İsmail Hakkı Polat, a social media expert and professor at Kadir Has University in Istanbul, emphasized that the president’s personal attention to this matter had raised participants’ hopes that steps would be undertaken by the government in the future.
Daily Radikal columnist Serdar Kuzuloğlu stressed that Gül had a much more flexible point of view compared to other political leaders. “We did talk about pressures, censorship, restrictions and hindrances and what we could do about it. The fact that Abdullah Gül is personally using social media platforms, that he knows what happens and what is at stake allows him to tackle it with a much broader perspective,” said Kuzuloğlu.
Ahmet Yeşiltepe, chief editor of private broadcaster NTV, also attended yesterday's lunch at the presidental palace.
"Am I not too young to retire?" Gül said when Yeşiltepe asked him whether he would like to become a photograph editor at NTV after retiring.
Lunch was delicious, says ‘brainless man’
To no one’s surprise, Twitter addict, Türkmen, didn’t stop tweeting during the lunch meeting. Türkmen teased that he had prepared himself for the feast by not eating for three days. He shared pictures of the foods served with his followers and only jokingly expressed some disappointment over a cup of tea, saying that “he could drink the same thing at home.”
Türkmen also told reporters they had asked the president why he didn’t follow anyone on Twitter and his response was that he did not wanted people to say “why are you following this person and not me?” The young twitterer also said Gül had promised to follow him more often.
After lunch, Gül took to Twitter and apologized to his followers about not being able to answer their messages, but assured them that as time allowed he would try to read all their messages. He also wrote that he learned a lot from his guests and posted a couple of pictures taken during the lunch event.