Erdogan Seeks to Tame Social Media, Again 

Turkey is poised to introduce drastic measures to control social media platforms.  The proposed legislation is drawing growing international criticism with social media remaining one of the few venues for dissent.  FILE – People wearing face masks to protect against the spread of coronavirus, walk a in popular shopping street, in Ankara, Turkey, June 27, 2020.The growing popularity of social media as an alternative to mainstream media, most of which is under government control, is seen as Erdogan’s primary motivation behind the pending legislation. “Even members of the AKP and MHP constituencies consider social media as their primary source of information,” said analyst Atilla Yesilada of Global Source Partners.  “One of the main reasons Erdogan could make so many mistakes and still stay in power is because he controls the flow of information reaching his entire voting segment, now he realizes those days have gone. People have moved to an alternative medium which he has no control,” added Yesilada. With the Turkish economy hit by the COVID 19 pandemic, recent opinion polls suggest Erdogan’s AKP’s popularity is at historic lows, even though it remains the most popular party with Turkey’s fractured opposition.  The proposed law opens the door to revamping Erdogan’s and his party’s image. “News websites, as well as social media platforms, will be compelled to remove content from their servers and news archives,” said Akdeniz. “The idea behind this is to cleanse AKP’s and the government’s past injustices, corruption, and irregularity allegations.” Yesilada warns that even if the latest reforms succeed, the Turkish leader could yet pay a high price. “We have ample survey evidence that the young generation are hooked to social media, and they already have a poor view of Mr. Erdogan and his politics. Controlling social media will completely turn them off the AKP and Mr. Erdogan.” 

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