Twitter as a political actor


Last week, Twitter shut down around 182,000 accounts it claimed to be linked to the states of China, Russia and Turkey on the grounds that they were “part of a network used to carry out propaganda, attack critics of the government and spread disinformation ”.

First, it’s hard not to read this as a political statement from the social media site, putting Turkey, a Democratic member of NATO, on the same level as a dictatorship like China and an autocracy like China. Russia. However, this is precisely where the problem lies. By closing these accounts, Twitter has proven that it is not a neutral platform that promotes freedom of expression and only provides data feeds, but a platform that has a political purpose and does not hesitate to use the censorship for this purpose.

I’m not sure how much Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey knows about it, but the website has been spectacularly misguided, especially when it comes to closed accounts in Turkey. I can’t speak for the other two countries, but when you look at the closed accounts in Turkey, you can clearly see that there is no connection to the state and that other claims made by Twitter are underway. suspense. Let me elaborate on this.

Twitter has closed 7,340 accounts it says are linked to the Turkish state. Let us first consider the argument that these accounts are affiliated with the state. In January alone, a total of 859,000 tweets were posted from these accounts, which were believed to have been identified in early 2020. However, of those hundreds of thousands of tweets, only 740 were linked to the Justice and Development Party. (AK Party). , while a thousand retweets concerned President Recep Tayyip ErdoÄŸan. The remaining 500,000 tweets included a variety of content, such as those calling for permanent government jobs, demanding an earlier retirement age, and demanding an amendment to the Check Act. In other words, the accounts that Twitter shut down on the grounds that they were linked to the Turkish state were accounts that made demands on the government and even criticized the government for not respecting them.

Let’s take a look at another claim from Twitter that these accounts that attacked government critics have been shut down. The fact that critical tweets about the main opposition party, the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the People’s Democratic Party (HDP), which supports the PKK in Parliament, are the reason for an account closure is proof that Twitter has openly accepted censorship. In recent days, the HDP representative in the United States has posted a tweet openly declaring that the PKK, which is considered a terrorist organization by the European Union and the United States, is not a terrorist organization. If so, why are Turkish users not allowed to express that the HDP is linked to the PKK? This is one of the questions Twitter needs to answer.

According to a report prepared for Twitter by Stanford University, the tweets are intended to change negative perceptions of refugees in Turkey. What a crime indeed. Sadly, the main opposition CHP and HDP have promulgated an anti-refugee rhetoric in Turkey, which currently hosts the largest number of refugees in the world. What does free speech mean if not in the sphere of free speech allowing pro-refugee tweets and encouraging truth to counter disinformation about them, according to the report, tagged # aslındadoğrusune (What is the truth) ? This is blatant censorship, and with this decision, Twitter has clearly declared itself to be both censor and politically motivated.

If you are a political actor, you agree to be subject to the rules and restrictions to which political actors are subject. It is high time for countries to take a look at the rules and restrictions they will introduce for platforms like Twitter.

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