Turkish Government Aims To Create 6000-Strong Social Media Propaganda Squad

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 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.

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.

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Comments on “Turkish Government Aims To Create 6000-Strong Social Media Propaganda Squad”

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That One Guy (profile) says:

If you have to pay people to say nice things about you...

Then it’s pretty obvious you’ve already lost as far as public opinion goes.

Just a thought, but if the various countries don’t want their citizens to keep posting such mean, not nice at all things about them, maybe, I dunno, stop doing crap that makes people hate and/or distrust them?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: If you have to pay people to say nice things about you...

The only problem with your solution is that it actually requires actually effort, and Governments don’t like effort as it means they actually need to inconvenience themselves. No to them a far better idea is to throw money at the problem, after all its not like its their money their spending, they can grandstand about how much their doing to stop a problem (Throwing our large numbers is always a nice bonus). Unfortunately this seems to hold true for more than 50% of most Government Solutions…any problem can be solved be giving someone else enough money to fix it

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: If you have to pay people to say nice things about you...

You can steer a populations opinions pretty well if you control the communication. There is a reason why the winner writes history.

Yes Erdogan is extremely divisive, but the opposition is a mess of Khmers and communists. The Kurds would hate their return to power with a passion.

In the cities Erdogan is hated, in most of the rural areas he is loved. Ultimately this is about swinging some young peoples opinions to better smear the significant protests. Protests reflect bad on a ruler so they put them down with any measure they can get away with. Roughing up protesters doesn’t resonate well with EU or the turkish people who get news from outside their media. Roughing up opponents online is everyday life.

Anonymous Coward says:

It’s good to see Techdirt reporting on something important, rather than dragging out the long-over debate about whether or not the NSA protecting American citizens is more important than being free from the occasional monitored phone call.

For those of you that didn’t know, this is exactly the kind of messages you need to look out for. Shills aren’t stupid, no matter what they make you think.

Anonymous Coward says:

so, if effort was made to relay anti-government messages, how long would it be before those doing so were arrested? about 5 minutes, i would think. this is making the internet political in one direction only. the freedom of speech is being removed as is privacy and all thanks to the USA, the country that was built on these things but is intent on destroying them as much and as quickly as possible.
all governments want to be able to stay in power. doing this sort of thing is then going to be used as a way of silencing even political opposition. in other words, we will soon have a world that is run as a dictator runs a country. remember that the entertainment industries are doing the same thing in kids classrooms. trying to influence how they think and act when they grow up by instilling into them a certain philosophy while they are young

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