The Listening Post

Turkey vs Twitter

We look at how Ankara’s crackdown on social media is creating a firestorm ahead of a critical presidential election.

Last month the Listening Post reported on demonstrations in Turkey over a new internet law which allows the government to unilaterally shutdown any website, without going through the courts.

The law has since claimed its first victims: Twitter and then YouTube. And that has led to an all-out online media war. The timing could not be more important – Turks go to the polls for local elections on March 30, and they are considered critical bellwether ahead of the presidential election later this year.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s opponents say his online clampdown is just a cynical, short term political move and a response to a growing story about government corruption. But Turks have refused to let the ban stop them from getting onto the micro-blogging site.

Talking us through the story this week is Cemalettin Hasimi, the director at the office of public diplomacy; Nagehan Alci, a host on CNN Turk; Fadi Hakura, a fellow at London’s Chatham House; and Bulent Mumay, the digital editor at Hurriyet newspaper.

On this week’s News Bytes: A journalist’s story on her time reporting on the Afghanistan war is removed from the international edition of the New York Times in Pakistan; an Iraqi journalist is killed – allegedly by a politician’s bodyguard; another reporter leaves Bloomberg News, part of the ongoing fallout over the organisation’s reporting on politics in China.

Since the 1997 handover between Britain and China, Hong Kong has been operating under a ‘one country, two system’ rule.

The city was promised a high level of economic and social autonomy from the mainland, including freedom of the press. But over the past few years that situation has been deteriorating and commentators say it is down to the growing influence of the government in Beijing.

This has meant that a city once known as a haven for free speech is now a place where critical journalists are attacked, newspaper editors are criticised for self-censoring, and the government in Beijing is being told to back-off. In this week’s feature, the Listening Post’s Gouri Sharma looks at the steady erosion of press freedom in the city of Hong Kong.

Our video of the week is probably something you have seen before. Employees at a Canadian stock footage company called Dissolve were inspired by a piece of prose published on an American publishing website. As they described it, it was their ‘moral imperative’ to put pictures to the writer’s words – and to include as many generic, advertising clichés and stereotypes as possible: scientists working with beakers, high speed trains,  a cute baby – the kind of evocative images that media consumers are bombarded with every day. They call it ‘This Is a Generic Brand Video’ and it is our web video of the week.


 Listening Post can be seen each week at the following times GMT: Saturday: 0830, 1930; Sunday: 1430; Monday: 0430.

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