Submitted by Turkish political analyst / blogger, Gürkan Özturan, from Istanbul:

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Did Facebook collaborate with Erdogan to squash online dissent?

Transportation Minister Binali Yildirim had announced some weeks ago that Twitter did not respond positively to a “cooperation” agreement to determine and spot those who get involved in “criminal activities” by expressing their views online. This statement’s rhetoric would make any reader feel that Facebook is cooperating with the Turkish government, and it was Twitter that was declared a menace to society by Prime Minister Erdogan. The flow of information and the pace at which news spread nationally as well as internationally must have been felt deeply, and initially it was the Metropolitan Mayor of Istanbul Kadir Topbas who requested that the Gezi Park protesters tweet in English saying that “everything is fine in Istanbul and life is back to normal.”

Not long after this “request” came threats and rumors that opposition pages would be closed down on Facebook as soon as possible but definitely before the elections – mainly citizen journalismleftistKurdishAlevi religious or LGBT pages. Although one might not want to believe in this possibility, apparently it was true that dozens of pages that reflect an alternative to the government’s rhetoric on the Internet have been closed down for no valid reason (the reason given for the closing down of some news sources was that they share pornographic content).

In order to protest this process of silencing opposition voices on Facebook, many users have been involved in a series of digital protests mainly involving twitter hashtags, penguin spamming (of Facebook’s official page), ad boycotting, and lastly a 24-hour account deactivation boycott on July 21. Even after these actions, Facebook does not seem to have heard the voice of the Turkish opposition and repeatedly closes down reserve pages of the same titles (which used to have hundreds of thousands of followers), this time not even giving a reason.

The cyber-army of government-leaning hackers have been terrorizing the social-media platforms through the use of an excessive number of fake accounts, organizing spam attacks and filing complaint reports about opposition pages stating that they are promoting sexual content. As Facebook has been avoiding any involvement in fighting hate speech and instigation to violence on hate groups, it actually now contributes to the ongoing “digitocide” happening in the cyber-lands of Gezi Park.

Among the pages that have been closed down are Ötekilerin Postasi (the biggest citizen journalism platform in Turkey that has broken the news of many big events that the mainstream media shunned), DurDe (an unofficial NGO that aims to prevent hate speech and hate crimes), BDP (one of the parliamentary parties, representing mainly the Kurdish population in the country), and Carsi (football fans, mainly of Besiktas). All these groups and pages in total welcomed millions of users, who are not giving up and continue to “like” the new pages.

Posted by SnakeArbusto and greydogg, 99GetSmart

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