As Erdogan Faces Turkish Coup, The Guy Who Once Banned Social Media Sites, Forced To Address Nation Via Facetime & Twitter

from the digital-irony dept

We’ve written a fair amount about Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Lately, it’s mostly been about his ridiculously thin skin over insults, and his willingness to take his hurt feelings international. But, even prior to that, he had a history of irrational hating on social media. Back when he was Prime Minister, he tried to blame Twitter for social unrest, even going so far as to order it banned in the country. And, when that failed, he actually sued his own government over the failure to block content on Twitter that he disliked.

Now, as you hopefully know from news sources other than Techdirt, as I write this, it appears that there’s a military coup going on in Turkey, trying to usurp Erdogan. As part of that effort, all those social media sites that Erdogan himself does not like, including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are being blocked. For Erdogan himself, that’s meant that he’s been cut off from his own means of communication to the public, leaving him to use Apple’s Facetime to call a local TV station to put him on the air:

And, of course, the social media blocks aren’t even that effective anyway — with many Turkish citizens using VPNs to get around the blocks. Plenty of people are now seeing live coverage of what’s happening in Turkey thanks to Facebook Live and Twitter’s Periscope.

I have no idea how this will turn out, but from the perspective of how the internet has changed the media landscape, this is all fairly incredible to watch as it plays out.

Update: And the irony gets thicker. Erdogan is now reaching out to the public… via Twitter:

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Comments on “As Erdogan Faces Turkish Coup, The Guy Who Once Banned Social Media Sites, Forced To Address Nation Via Facetime & Twitter”

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Ehud Gavron (profile) says:

This is good

Erdogan was not good to his people and not good to the other countries around him.

The Turkish military have a strong history of coups to restore democracy, free law, and a secular (non “islamist”) society. These are all aligned with not only what *we* (outsiders) want but also what the Turks want.

Erdogan has been slowly working his way up to be President For Life™ and this will put a stop to that.

This is good for Europe. This is good for the US. This is good for Israel. This may improve things with Russia. It won’t change anything with Kurds or Syrians.

Not all coups are bad.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: This is good

In this case yes — a Military coup would be pro-democracy. When the first-past-the-post elected hardline theocrat frames all dissident leadership for various crimes and then invites his own people into those positions without election, and the military is a drafted military of the people that doesn’t answer to the elected government, but has the mandate to protect democracy and overthrow the government if it goes too far out of line from the constitution (sound familiar?) Then yes. The Turkish military is kind of like all the US militias rolled into one, combined with the Swiss army. Their mandate isn’t to protect the government, but to protect the country. When the government appears to be acting outside of the interests of the country as a whole, the military steps in and removes them, calling a new election so the people can elect someone better.

In Turkey, some variation of this happens about every 10 years. The 2007 one happened bloodlessly, as the militant party attempting to get elected and disband democracy disbanded themselves when the people’s army rattled their sabres.

Lawrence D’Oliveiro says:

Re: Re: Re: a Military coup would be pro-democracy.

The trouble is, an essential part of democracy is the checks and balances between different power groups to guard against abuses. A coup sweeps away all that.

You know, power corrupts? Because “trust us, we’re going to restore democracy” so often turns out to be famous last words…

orbitalinsertion (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 a Military coup would be pro-democracy.

Yes, forbid there ever be a coup or revolution when the power is already corrupt. Never mind that in Turkey, this is essentially an institutionalized check and balance. Hope it turns out that way this time, too. But that’s their mechanism. Seems to work at least as well as any other country’s…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 a Military coup would be pro-democracy.

Hmm, I seem to remember a story about some militias in some “new world” place a couple of hundred or so years ago turning against their English governors and creating a new republic. Even though not strictly a democracy, the result seemed to be an improvement.

Gothenem says:

Re: Re: This is good

Historically, Turkish coups have been to restore democracy. There is no knowing if this is the case this time, but it most likely is.

Turkey is almost unique in this situation, where the military coups end in better democracy – most other countries have coups ending in military dictatorships.

Not saying that this particular coup will help restore democracy, or reduce democracy, time will tell there, but in the past, the military coups in recent Turkish history have been to restore democracy to that nation.

David says:

Re: Re: Re: This is good

Secularity is not really a tenet of democracy. It’s just that in practice coexistence and tolerance and respect tend to tank eventually when ruled by religion. Or any ideology. Or cultural identity. Humans are an ugly crowd, so you basically need to tie the cultural identity and tribal pride into tolerance and democracy itself.

“The guest is sacred” is one such mechanism actually promoted even in religious/tribal contexts but it works at very limited scales.

David says:

Re: On the bright side

Gollum is a CG character or rather skin. His underlying skeleton actor’s main qualification is flexibility and agility and an excellence sense of compassion for a racially and ethnically diverged entity.

If you want to make an alternate-reality version of The Lord of the Rings after Gollum makes it out of Mount Doom unscathed with the ring, he might be a good pick, but not while Sauron is still around.

Hugo S Cunningham (profile) says:

Secretive coup plotters overlooked potential of civilian allies

Given years of discontent by Turkey’s Westernizing urban classes with Erdogan’s Islamizing and increasingly authoritarian ways, I was surprised that all of the street activism was in support of Erdogan. But the coup plotters apparently made no effort to recruit allies on the Internet, instead trying to smother it as an unpredictable element. They were a conspiratorial faction in the security services (the Gulenists) who did not understand how society and the Army had changed. Erdogan has had twelve years to purge the Army of secularist Kemalist generals who might have supported a coup.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Secretive coup plotters overlooked potential of civilian allies

Yes, and unfortunately the coup leaders failed to kill Erdogan and his inner circle, which is of course the logical step to take when trying to remove a regime from power. Perhaps next time the Turkish military will RTFM before trying this stunt and realize that immediate execution of the leader is really the most effective way to prevent him from appealing to the masses to help return him to power.

Hugo S Cunningham (profile) says:

Re: Re: Secretive coup plotters overlooked potential of civilian allies

The best coup is a bloodless coup, eg when the target leader is away on a foreign visit.
I am doubtful whether decapitation of the leadership would have worked in this case. Erdogan has had many years to remake the Army’s officer corps, and he was acutely alert to the risk of a coup.

David says:

And the backlash is in

After the coup broke down, a number of people have been arrested (not really surprising), and something like 3000 judges have been fired. Obviously, Erdogan uses the failed coup as an excuse to mow down opposition indiscriminately.

I mean: firing judges because of a military coup? He probably has a shit list of judges somewhere who did not hand out the kind of verdicts he likes for being critical.

This will get worse a lot before it gets another chance to get better.

Hugo S Cunningham (profile) says:

Re: And the backlash is in

The firing of the judges is rather convenient. The more I think about it, the more I believe the coup was intentionally sparked by people secretly working for Erdogan. He knew what was coming and had countermeasures ready, both in the Army and in mass mobilization. The Gulenist military officers fell into a trap, and now they are guilty by the standards of most societies.

David says:

Re: Re:

No, in Turkey. He started by firing all judges who cannot be relied upon to crank out the desired verdicts.

And those of the remaining ones that don’t fall into line as expected will likely be unseated and accused of high treason.

Erdogan is democratically legitimated. Guess who else was almost a century ago, juggling between a few leadership positions until he created his personal one.

You can elect him any time you want but you may never leave. It’s not that uncommon a preposition.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

It’s not the 1st time that Turdogan has sacked judges & military officers that looked at him the wrong way. Strange how the new bunch of sacked judges have the same ideas about the rule of law that the old judges that got sacked held.

Must be something about holding up the rule of law, not the whims of a dictator for life, who has just announced in the aftermath that he is to hold onto office until the end (of his life?).

Turdogan may not have a gold toilet but he sure is performing a golden shower on the Turkish citizens.

Anonymous Coward says:

the world wants to look out for this guy. since the coup, there has been over 6000 arrests, including 30 generals and 270 judges and he’s stated how he is gonna wipe out ‘all state institutions of the Gülen virus’. this sounds very much to me like a certain person that started WWII and wanted to eradicate the Jews during the process! cant believe that the EU was/still is considering having Turkey as a member. Erdogan is a dangerous man, too dangerous to have as an enemy but even more dangerous to have as a friend!

Anon says:


The coup was so amateurish it’s not hard to believe it was a put-up job by Erdogan himself. Army all over Istanbul and Ankara but none at the airport – while Erdogan was off in the countryside and would fly back? No attempt to fly to his resort and arrest him ASAP? No attempt to hold on the TV studios (just a hit-and-run) or the phone company? Police forces organized to go up against heavily armed Army groups almost immediately (and the Army surrendered!)

Where’s the prime ring-leaders paraded on TV afterward? Instead, he’s arresting a flock of Army brass that appears well in excess of the number that were needed to command that tiny amateur farce. Looks more like Erdogan just has his own enemies list and he’s found or manufactured an excuse to work his way through it.

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