Thursday, August 15, 2013

Social media & change in Turkey

I was in Istanbul last week and I took this picture of the informal plaques to the martyrs of Gezi Park, where six people were killed during the recent demonstrations against the government in Turkey.

Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip Recep Erdogan recently described Twitter as a "menace & a troublemaker".
Turkey's Gezi Park protests were a clear example of a Twitter revolt. Twitter, it seems, is a better tool for protest in Turkey than Facebook.
The following chart from Edrandvalue, shows Twitter users posting #hashtags about the protests and who they supported. 
Erdogan has a Twitter account with almost 3 million followers, but Twitter is a communication channel he cannot control. His own account is controlled by his office and Tweets about his speeches.
The protests united different groups and showed that Twitter is changing the dynamics of mass communication. State control is weakened if communication channels are open to all.
This is well understood in China and Russia, where alternative regional services predominate.
We must also be aware that the show is not over in Turkey. The forces determined to turn Gezi Park into a shopping centre are still circling, waiting for their moment. Social media organised a significant protest, which has delayed things, but there is a long game going on in Turkey, which we do not yet know the outcome to.

My only hope is that a way can be found for all of the people in Turkey to live in freedom, without any more deaths.

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