Skip to main content

The Globe and Mail

Turkish PM Erdogan lashes out at the ‘menace that is called Twitter’

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is under fire for repressive tactics.

UMIT BEKTAS/REUTERS

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at protesters on the weekend but singled out microblogging social media tool Twitter for his most scathing attack.

"Now we have a menace that is called Twitter," he said in an interview on Turkish television. "The best examples of lies can be found there. To me, social media is the worst menace to society."

Instead of directly criticizing protesters – initially young and liberal when the protests began last week, but now growing to represent a broad spectrum of Turkish society – he said "incorrect" information was being spread via tweets.

Story continues below advertisement

"People are being misled by outright lies."

Mr. Erdogan is not the first leader in the region to finally catch on that social media – in particular Facebook, Twitter and YouTube – are widely used by the under-40 crowd, which make up majority in Turkey and the Arab world.

Social media helped Tunisians and Egyptians organize themselves and topple their long-time dictators two years ago and is still a powerful tool against the Islamists who govern both those countries.

Recognizing that, and taking a page from the dictator notebook, the Turkish government shut down Facebook and Twitter in Turkey for several hours Saturday.

It also imposed a news media blackout.

But it didn't work: Protesters created hashtags and Facebook pages at lightning speed, circulating pictures and videos of police attacking demonstrators as well as images of those who were reported to have died in the violence.

Hashtag #occupygezi and a Facebook page with photos were quickly followed by Livestream, Tumblr and YouTube posts going viral.

Story continues below advertisement

As a result, the Turkish leader tried discrediting social media rather than risk further alienating Turkish voters, who came out in force after being horrified by the circulating scenes they believed were the norm only across the Mediterranean.

Sunday night, Mr. Erdogan said he didn't need "permission" from marauders for his controversial plans to redevelop part of central Istanbul.

"He's a dictator," said one tweet. "He sounds like Mubarak."

"He'll end up like him, too," went the answer.

Report an error
Comments

The Globe invites you to share your views. Please stay on topic and be respectful to everyone. For more information on our commenting policies and how our community-based moderation works, please read our Community Guidelines and our Terms and Conditions.

We’ve made some technical updates to our commenting software. If you are experiencing any issues posting comments, simply log out and log back in.

Discussion loading… ✨

Combined Shape Created with Sketch.

Combined Shape Created with Sketch.

Thank you!

You are now subscribed to the newsletter at

You can unsubscribe from this newsletter or Globe promotions at any time by clicking the link at the bottom of the newsletter, or by emailing us at privacy@globeandmail.com.