Social media working to keep Taksim crisis alive

A woman takes pictures of the gate of the French Consulate near Taksim Square where police and anti-government protesters clashed in central İstanbul June 2, 2013. (Photo: Reuters)

June 02, 2013, Sunday/ 16:53:00

Although the several day-long demonstrations against the demolition of Gezi Park in İstanbul's Taksim Square have cooled off, there are still provocative and misleading news reports floating about on social media.

Apparently, some marginal groups who want to further foment the crisis are posting some inaccurate pieces of information or misleading photos on social media sites.

One such photo was posted by Birgün daily columnist Ece Temelkuran. The photo showed the police using pepper spray against demonstrators from a close distance. Temelkuran posted the photo as if it was taken in Turkey but it was actually from Boston.

Another misleading piece of information in social media were rumors that Turkey's Constitutional Court would overthrow the government if the demonstrations last for more than 48 hours but there is no such a law in Turkey.

There were also claims that the police used Agent Orange against protesters, which was not true. The use of Agent Orange is banned by the United Nations as it considers it a chemical weapon.

A tweet allegedly posted by Health Minister Mehmet Müezzinoğlu saying, “You oppose the state and the police and then expect an ambulance to show up,” was also found to be fake.

A photo showing a policeman using pepper spray against a dog also turned out to be an act of manipulation on social media as the photo was from Italy, not İstanbul.

Some Twitter users tried to attract the attention of the foreign press by likening Taksim to Egypt's Tahrir Square where the Egyptian revolution had kicked off.

Some users of social media claimed that many people have been killed and injured in the clashes with the police. It is estimated that 5 million misleading tweets have been posted about the Taksim demonstrations.

While some groups called on the government to resign posting tweets under the hashtag “tayyipistifa,” (Resign [Recep] Tayyip [Erdoğan]) some other groups have called for common sense by posting tweets under the hashtag “OyunaGelmeTurkiyem, [Don't be deceived by the games, Turkey].

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