from the getting-the-message-out dept
In the recent demonstrations in Istanbul, the Turkish government may have had superior police and security forces on the streets, but one area where it lost the battle was on social networks, which anti-government protesters used adroitly to get their viewpoint out to the world. It seems the Turkish government has learned its lesson, and has decided to fight back according to this report in the Wall Street Journal:
The Justice and Development Party [AKP], led by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, is recruiting a 6,000-member social-media team to woo citizens and fight critics, party officials said.
The Turkish government certainly isn't the first to adopt this form of digital propaganda. China led the way with its "50-cent party", named for the amount of money that its members are allegedly paid every time they steer discussion back towards the official line. More recently, it has emerged that Israel will be paying university students to post pro-government messages online, but without identifying themselves as part of a propaganda team. Given the importance of social networks, and their ability to help shape political debates, it seems likely that this tactic will become increasingly common around the world.
The AKP is gradually bringing young, tech-savvy party members to Ankara to train them in classrooms to act as volunteer "social-media representatives."
The youth will be charged with sharing news and images, mainly on Twitter and Facebook, but also on Instagram and YouTube, that promote the party perspective and monitor online discussions, a party official said.