“There is now a menace which is called Twitter […] The best examples of lies can be found there. To me, social media is the worst menace to society.” — Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Prime Minister of Turkey
I took this quote today from an article on CBSnews.com: “Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan rejects “dictator” charge.”
I found this quote and its context in the article to be a bit chilling. As an avid user of social media, I find it quite ironic that a leader who is refuting claims that he is a dictator is condemning the use of social media. Twitter is a menace to society? Really?
Social media gives a voice to ordinary citizens, bringing their voices together in a virtual setting in way that can be similar to an actual physical protest. It can just be harder for a government to stop its citizens’ online commentaries.
Twitter has the power to let people express themselves however they wish. Sure, a person can certainly use their Twitter account to lie; however, I like to think that (with the exception of cyber-bullies) most people use their social media accounts to speak the truth as they see it. Perhaps I am too much of an idealist.
In any case, with the trouble that has been happening recently in Turkey, Erdogan’s comments bring back memories of the attempted crackdown of Twitter during the protests in Iran of 2009-2010; it also makes me worry that, if pushed too far, the Turkish government may choose to go the way of the Chinese, refusing access to Twitter and Facebook outright. Let’s hope not.