Observations were verified with a bots analysis report released by a major internet security company, Norton (November, 2016). Turkey is one of the top countries in automated bots usage; see report at https://uk.norton.com/emeabots 

Observations were verified with a bots analysis report released by a major internet security company, Norton (November, 2016). Turkey is one of the top countries in automated bots usage; see report at https://uk.norton.com/emeabots 

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This article focuses on AKTrolls, defined as pro-government political trolls in Turkey, while attempting to draw implications about political trolling in the country in general. It examines their methods and effects, and it interrogates whether (and how) Turkish authorities have attempted to shape or counter politically motivated social media conte...

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... use of automated bots has been on the rise and does not need sophisticated investment. 67 Evidence suggests that as of April 2016, AKTrolls rely heavily on bots (Figure 2 ...

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... In addition, social media platforms have been used as tools for manipulation and disinformation campaigns by governments and political campaigns through bots to artificially shape public life . The use of automated bots and political trolling are further problematic issues relating to the media in Turkey (Saka, 2018). ...
... The social media environment offers incentives, from political to economic, to design algorithms exhibiting human-like behaviour . Therefore, the use of social bots is increasing and does not need a sophisticated investment (Saka, 2018). Bot accounts and their interactions on social media have been observed in recent years . ...
... Ayrıca sosyal medya platformları, hükümetler tarafından manipülasyon ve yanlış bilgi yayma aracı olarak kullanılırken, bu işlem sırasında hükümetler bot hesaplarından yararlanma yoluna gitmişlerdir. Otomatik bot hesapların kullanımı ve siyasi trolleme, Türkiye'deki medyayla ilgili diğer sorunlu konular arasındadır(Saka, 2018).çalışma, Türkiye'deki 15-19 Temmuz 2016 tarihleri arasında gerçekleşen 15 Temmuz darbe girişimine odaklanmaktadır. ...
Article
Social media can be used for sharing and learning news but also for spreading misinformation and disinformation to manipulate public opinion. Existing research on fabricated content on social media demonstrates the use of Twitter as a means to disseminate manipulative content (through bots and other means). This study looks at the content created and posted through Twitter during the failed coup attempt that occurred on 15th July 2016 in Turkey. The aim of the study is to examine disinformation content within 10,953 tweets that were disseminated to influence online conversations around the ‘coup’ attempt. The study applies a quantitative approach by using the DiscoverText. Examination of Twitter content at that time showed that the protests following the coup attempt were often reported in the form of disinformation, which includes manipulated and fabricated content. Online disinformation content demonstrated that Twitter users shared information related to events with no sources or explanation. In addition, the tweets containing disinformation were retweeted by others who probably accepted the disinformation as real. The analysis of Twitter content also suggested that bot accounts were likely created to manipulate and deceive Twitter users by spreading false information or news under the hashtag.
... They were allegedly organised and paid within the party structure. However, my ethnographic work on Aktrolls revealed that they were mostly volunteering with no regular payment structure (Saka, 2018). In this chapter, I present how political trolls were viewed as a discursive community that became the mediative instrument of the ruling party when Turkey took an authoritarian turn. ...
... Another troll was, according to AK party circles, a "Gülenist organiser" on Twitter. I also interviewed a relatively high-level bureaucrat specialising in Turkey's communication sector (more on this can be found in Saka, 2018).This primary method of data gathering was coupled with archival research in which. I analysed media representations of political trolling in mainstream newspapers and social media. ...
... During the state of the emergency period, when political opponents were under pressure, I moved to digital spaces because I felt more secure: I stopped visiting the abovementioned district as I expected more heated arguments and hostility towards me. I created a master private list on Twitter (which I named "Akgossip") to monitor accounts I listed and mapped in the previous period (Saka, 2018). The list itself generated new additions as the interactions with the monitored accounts evolved, and I could note shifting alliances and changing political positions. ...
... The existing scholarly literature focuses on aspects of conglomeration and deunionization of broadcasting (Christensen 2019, 141), biased content creation (Yanardağoğlu 2021) and an overwhelming reliance on social media content analysis (Saka 2018). Such detailed case studies omit the link between the relationship between the fear of media by the governments and the fear of the media practitioners in Turkey, which becomes a circuit of fear generation on both sides, which continuously undermines the operation of liberal democracy. ...
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This article examines the historical roots of the role of successive Turkish governments' fear of media and Turkish media's fear of government authority with respect to the development of press freedom over the long run and closely analyzes the historical pressures imposed on journalists through legal and informal means. We focus particularly on the economic and political pressure on the media in Turkey and offer three arguments regarding the fear in Turkish media: (1) Media fear is historical rather than a rupture that happened during the Justice and Development Party era; (2) out of fear of losing power, the governments use structural, legislative and extra-legal factors to the advantage of the ruling party to support a friendly media-ecology; and (3) the repressed media attempt to come out of this ecology of fear by utilizing new tactics of reporting, such as alternative media and citizen journalism.
... The list of trolls to monitor was based on the findings of previous ethnographic work. Significant impact nodes were found and mapped (Saka 2018), and representative accounts were selected for monitoring. To follow political and personal changes among trolls, the list was continuously updated to demonstrate emerging cliques. ...
... State-sponsored political trolling has the potential to lure influential users with large follower bases on social media. The story of Serkan İnci (Saka 2018), who leads the highly active communities İnciCaps and İnciSözlük, is striking. He was a Gezi Park activist but gradually moved to serve the government agenda and became an active component of AKTroll discourse. ...
... Blockages and entire Internet shutdowns have become frequent, not only under authoritarian or controlled regimes but also under emerging or fragile democracies (Howard et al., 2011) such as Brazil, Turkey, India, and the United Kingdom (Taye, 2020). In Turkey, a more "traditional" form of legacy media censorship that pushed both citizens and journalists to alternative outlets on social media (Akser and McCollum, 2018;Saka, 2018) was followed by systemic trolling by an army of political bots (Saka, 2018). In India, frequent shutdowns are justified on a series of grounds, such as the blockage of social media to prevent cheating during exams (TNN, 2016) or the whole Internet shutdown due to mob lynchings (Agence France Press, 2018). ...
... Blockages and entire Internet shutdowns have become frequent, not only under authoritarian or controlled regimes but also under emerging or fragile democracies (Howard et al., 2011) such as Brazil, Turkey, India, and the United Kingdom (Taye, 2020). In Turkey, a more "traditional" form of legacy media censorship that pushed both citizens and journalists to alternative outlets on social media (Akser and McCollum, 2018;Saka, 2018) was followed by systemic trolling by an army of political bots (Saka, 2018). In India, frequent shutdowns are justified on a series of grounds, such as the blockage of social media to prevent cheating during exams (TNN, 2016) or the whole Internet shutdown due to mob lynchings (Agence France Press, 2018). ...
Article
Internet, social media, and app shutdowns have become frequent, not only in authoritarian states but also in emerging and fragile democracies. As Russian authorities enforced a legal blockage to Instant Messenger Telegram during the past 2 years, many users kept using the app seamlessly thanks to what we call a subversive affordance: a built-in proxy functionality that allows users to seamlessly circumvent the blockage. We claim it is subversive because it allows users to overcome the blockage as the consequence of the app’s development, with a significant fraction of users who did not have to take action to bypass the blockage. By conducting an online survey and performing a meta-cluster analysis, we found a group we labeled the undeprived: people that, despite presenting traits frequently associated with digital divides—such as gender, age, and low levels of digital skills—were able to keep using the app.
... Specifically, while making derogatory statements about social media, which he claimed not to use, the Prime Minister himself had a Twitter account with several million followers. Moreover, several prominent government officials from Erdogan's AKP party also had Twitter accounts and used them regularly [152,191,192]. 6 The AKP also utilized major social media platforms prior to and after these statements, for example, during the Fig. 2. The Theory of Planned Behavior model [1]. 4 Candan [306] reported that, following Erdogan's statements, police conducted arrests of Twitter users who posted anti-government tweets in response. ...
Article
Few research studies have examined the impact of government policies toward social media on individuals’ attitudes to social media use, particularly when these policies aim to denounce and control social media platforms, as was the case in Turkey in 2013–2016. A conceptual model, based on the Theory of Planned Behavior (Ajzen, 2005) [1], was proposed to investigate the mediating role of awareness of government policies, degree of political involvement, online trust, and the moderating role of party identification in predicting the attitudes to social media use. Data were collected through a survey of 653 social media users in Istanbul, Turkey (mean age = 31.76, SD = 10.96; 40 % women, 83 % Turkish ethnicity) in September 2015. Using PLS-SEM modelling, the awareness of government policies, the degree of political involvement, and the online trust were found to partially mediate the relationship between the frequency of social media use and the attitudes to social media use for the users of Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram, while the moderating role of party identification was not significant in this model. The results provide additional support for the role of social context and past behaviors in predicting the attitudes and future intentions in the use of digital communication technologies.
... coup attempt in 2016 (Yılmaz and Turner 2019). Turkey has a well-known history of utilizing social media to spread progovernment content, and utilizing an army of troll accounts commonly known as the AK Trolls to attack those critical of the government (Saka 2018;Bulut and Yörük 2017;Albayrak and Parkinson 2013). In 2020, Twitter removed and disclosed over 7,340 accounts linked to the AKP. ...
... In 2013, the Gezi park protests mobilized Turkish citizens to Twitter as a primary source of news and mechanism for political discourse and organiziation due to severe censorship in mainstream media (Yılmaz and Turner 2019;Karatas and Saka 2017). In response, the AKP funded, recruited, and trained an army of 6,000 young AKP members to create and disseminate progovernment/AKP content on social media (Albayrak and Parkinson 2013;Saka 2018). These "AK Trolls" use social media to spread AKP ideals through large volumes Twitter's takedown attributed to the AKP shares these same sentiments and is likely part of the AK Troll's larger network of accounts (Grossman et al. 2020). ...
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Social media platforms have more recently shifted towards investigating and reporting on coordinated state-linked manipulation taking place on their sites. Following the 2016 US elections, for instance, Twitter opened their Information Operations hub where they disclose accounts participating in state-linked information operations. In June 2020, Twitter released a set of accounts linked to Turkey's ruling political party. In this work, we investigate these accounts in the aftermath of the takedown and collect still-live accounts that appear to be part of the same network. We create a taxonomy to classify these accounts, find direct sequel accounts between the Turkish takedown and our collected data, and find evidence showing that Turkish actors deliberately construct their account network to withstand large-scale shutdown.
... Reilly's book is attempting to look at the ICT's potential to promote positive intergroup contact within deeply divided societies. The research is also aiming to engage question of deliberately sharing of wrong information seen in two recent US elections, most recent Brexit referendum and elections around the world influenced by false claims as news as in Turkish general and municipal elections (Saka, 2018). The first main case study of the project stems from the Ardoyne parade disputes (July 2014 and July 2015), a costumed band march in Belfast by the protestant loyalist Orange order/UVF backed ritual that makes a point of passing through the Irish Republican neighborhood, a move interpreted as offensive by the Irish residents. ...
Article
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Writing on Northern Ireland post troubles society is a challenge in itself; identifying and deciphering the social media culture wars between multiple opposing parties within the Northern Ireland is even a bigger challenge that Paul Reilly tackled in his book Digital Contention in a Divided Society. The book is a solid case study of affective publics contested via the microblogging site Twitter between 2012 and 2016. This is a period that has serious methodological repercussions for social media researchers due to polarizing Brexit debates and later campaigning in the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland.
... This demonstrates a clear form of networked authoritarianism because, at the production level, the state is involved in practices of censorship and prosecution of social media users. This pattern is continued at the discursive level where the state becomes invested in the production of information through trolls (Saka, 2018). ...
Article
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This paper deals with a case study that provides unique and original insight into social media credibility attacks against the Saudi journalist and activist, Jamal Khashoggi. To get the data, I searched all the state-run tweets sent by Arab trolls (78,274,588 in total), and I used Cedar, Canada’s supercomputer, to extract all the videos and images associated with references to Khashoggi. In addition, I searched Twitter’s full data archive to cross-examine some of the hashtag campaigns that were launched the day Khashoggi disappeared and afterwards. Finally, I used CrowdTangle to understand whether some of these hashtags were also used on Facebook and Instagram. I present here evidence that just a few hours after Khashoggi’s disappearance in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, Saudi trolls started a coordinated disinformation campaign against him to frame him as a terrorist, foreign agent for Qatar and Turkey, liar.... etc. The trolls also emphasized that the whole story of his disappearance and killing is a fabrication or a staged play orchestrated by Turkey and Qatar. The campaign also targeted his fiancée, Hatice Cengiz, alleging she was a spy, while later they cast doubt about her claims. Some of these campaigns were launched a few months after Khashoggi’s death. Theoretically, I argue that state-run disinformation campaigns need to incorporate the dimension of intended effect. In this case study, the goal is to tarnish the reputation and credibility of Khashoggi, even after he died, in an attempt to discredit his claims and political cause, influence different audiences especially the Saudi public, and potentially reduce sympathy towards him.
... Posttruth politics operates in the new digital setting where the pay-per-click business model of the Internet has created incentives for sensational 'clickbait' stories, with online fake news traveling much faster that fact-based stories (Sim 2019). Beside the coordinated use of hyperpartisan commentators, news sites, automated bots, and fake followers to amplify the messages, some AKP-supported formations such as the Pelican Group and its think tank Bosphorus Global assumed an operational role in manufacturing and spreading their truths to determine the tone in Turkey-related debates (Saka 2018;Sözeri 2016). ...
Chapter
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Post-truth is the latest entanglement of politics and power with truth claims. Epitomized by a disregard for facts, post-truth undermines the very foundations of reality and rationality while altering how politics unfolds. Beginning with a theoretical elaboration of post-truth, this chapter outlines the trajectory of the politics of truth in the Turkish context and shows how post-truth drives politics in modern Turkey. While noting the continuities with the past, this chapter invests more in explaining how post-truth politics has operated in the 2000s. It illustrates how the ruling elite, by inundating the political landscape with rumors, fabricated content and conspiracy theories to neutralize facts. This milieu created a smokescreen that obstructed genuine public debate while fashioning a kind of commonsense knowledge immune to factual rebuttal.