“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,” a dejected, ragged Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan words for the protesters demanding his resignation. The Turkey’s velvet revolution is growing day by day, drawing a fast response on social media networking sites. It is now spreading across the country beyond the Taksim Square in capital city of Istanbul. Police are detaining people charged of provoking violence on social media, apart from thousands for demonstrating against Prime Minister. This is not new phenomenon neither the social movement, nor the use of social media to communicate the revolution.
A report says around 31,000,000 Facebook users and 7,200,000 million tweeps turned to social media to get information on the revolution in just two weeks. So how is this social media helping in organizing and surviving the protest? The turkey case is quite a unique case.
It all started with the government’s plan to demolish the Taksim Gezi Park on May 28, protested by fifty environmentalists, who tried to stop them, but failed. What followed was chain of reaction on social media, one following the other. The reaction was amalgamation of demands for various fundamental rights like clean environment and personal freedom. The protest was also “uh-uh, I don’t want any” to authoritarian central government, an apolitical stand to a political problem. The role of social media evolved when the main stream media initially restrained themselves from covering the protest facilitating revolution in 90 seconds.
Protesting Using Twitter In Turkey
The protesters plan and execute their protest by making public announcements about their cause and mode of protest on Twitter and Tumbler. They keep track of private maps, chats and groups on other networks to check in on fellow protesters, constantly update Facebook about the situation in protest areas. The supporters of the protest retweets the messages posted by the protesters, links to maps that show makeshift sites for clinics in houses and even in restaurants’ basements. After being tracked by the Police on the social media sites, they completely changed their mode of functioning by communicating information privately on the links and sites visible only to the protesters.
The protesters and their supporters are using Virtual Private Networks (VPNs), which hide a user’s location and still allow them to communicate on internet. Similarly, People can stream live videos of the protest in various places. The best part of this social media backed revolution is that it is not only allowing protesters to reach out to larger mass base, organize protest but also keep them away from police brutality. In the latest development people are using mobile based communication, with sharp increase in the mobile based apps use, apprehending more crackdowns and arrests.
Civil Society and The Role of Social Media
If we look at the last few years, we will find that one of the most important developments has been the growing role of the civil society in postulating their rights. We will find series of social movements by citizens aimed at asserting their role in political affairs. Street demonstration, protest March, Dharna and debate on Social Media. Social Media has certainly evolved as a bigger platform to connect large number of people across the geographical limits and initiating debates which are of national and international interests. We have seen a rare involvement of ‘Netizens’ that sprang up from conflicting political scenario in many countries in South Asia- Bangladesh, Pakistan and India. It all started with the ‘twitter revolution’ which fueled the Arab Spring in Tunisia and swept across the region engulfing Egypt, Libya and even Syria.
How To Create A Revolution
For a revolution to grow and be successful one need to communicate, and communicate fast, therefore giving ways to new mode of expression. The new medium of expression is internet and social media. In a virtually no barrier internet world- The social media connects a citizen to another without any intermediary- One does not need to speak on electronic media or write on newspaper to get heard at larger level, if not at national level. It helps to connect a person living miles away, virtually placing in vicinity of each other. The censorship is low- little chance of curtailing the values of one’s expression.
Considering the scale of IT revolution, and the increasing role of Social media in penetrating our day to day life, it is natural that the social media has the potential to organize a movement very fast and reach out to masses very quickly. The coverage is higher cutting across community, profession, region and nationality. Understandably among the Netizens, those who are twenty four hours connected to internet and social networking sites with latest gadgets. This gives profundity to social media over other forms of networking.
The way social media is constructing our day to day life, facilitating the process of information sharing, expressing our opinions and views of the current political and social atmosphere around the globe, we can expect more impendent revolution in the social media space in the coming years.
Image Source : IANS
Note: please comment and ask questions on the website and not on Face book. I would love to interact and reply. Thank You(Author’s personal request)