Turkey’s Internet watchdog warns Twitter over popular anti-gov’t hashtags

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Ömer Fatih Sayan, the director of Turkey’s Information Technologies and Communication Council (BTK), an Internet watchdog responsible for digital censorship in the country, has sent a warning to Twitter after an anti-government hashtag got millions of tweets earlier this week, according to a report by the Yeniçağ daily on Saturday.

“At present we are only giving a warning on the topic of disinformation,” Sayan said, adding: “The Supreme Election Board [YSK] is responsible for overseeing the election process. If the YSK decides [to ban Twitter], we will implement it.”

Twitter would do well to achieve the levels of transparency and information-sharing of Facebook, Sayan said and claimed that “Twitter is knowingly evading [government oversight]. They are allowing manipulation through bot accounts.”

Sayan said that six times as many tweets in recent hashtag campaigns had been sent from the United States as from Turkey, an incorrect statement apparently stemming from a tweet geolocation website’s inability to cope with the spacing in the anti-government hashtag “Enough” (T A M A M).

“This highlights a serious degree of professional manipulation,” Sayan claimed. “Blocking [Twitter] is something we can do technically, but we do not want this to be in the foreground. This is something they do in order to get such a reaction.”

Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu had also sent a warning to users of social media in a statement on Friday.

“Our units will be on duty establishing security in the digital realm … in particular, our cybercrimes team will be following terror organization propaganda and other sorts of provocation on social media,” he said.

Following a speech by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan at his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) youth branch convention on Friday in which he said, “I know, you are bored,” Turkey’s social media users created another phenomenon: “We are bored!”

Erdoğan’s previous comment about stepping aside if the nation were to say “Tamam” (“enough” or “OK” in Turkish), critical Twitter users tweeted “T A M A M” millions of times in protest of Erdoğan’s bid to serve as president for five more years.

According to Euronews, “We are bored!” (S I K I L D I K) hit worldwide trends in a couple of hours and reached almost half a million tweets.

After ‘TAMAM’ attracted worldwide attention, AKP supporters tried to create their own trending topic, ‘Go on’ (DEVAM); however, it was unable to compete with “TAMAM.”

(Stockholm Center for Freedom [SCF] with Ahval)

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