EXPLORING TURKEY’S DISINFORMATION ECOSYSTEM

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Baris Kirdemir – EDAM Non Resident Fellow

INTRODUCTION

The rise of disinformation and hostile influence threatens individuals, societies, economies, and political systems across the world. Although most of the public attention concentrates on the term of fake news, the range of false information, its ecosystems, and consequences extend beyond the news. Also, actors, strategies, methods, and the overall environment of false information evolves over time. Turkey’s information environment, including the news media and social media platforms, remains plagued with all types of false information and coordinated manipulation campaigns. The country is among the most vulnerable to the weaponized use of information, bots, trolls, and algorithmic cognitive threats at scale.

However, it still suffers from the lack of any strategic initiative and ‘whole-of-society’ efforts to understand and mitigate the associated risks to this date. This study explores the typologies and instances of false information in Turkey. The first section will briefly outline the characterizations, types, trends, and the evolution of the informational threats at the international level.

The following chapters will present an overview of misinformation, disinformation, and social manipulation. In particular, the paper will present the findings of a misinformation monitoring effort during the COVID-19 pandemic in Turkey.

The diversity and volume of false information associated with the pandemic provide a test case to compare Turkey with cases elsewhere and reveals Turkey’s characteristic vulnerabilities in the midst of information disorder. The final analytical section will include a short brief on false information revolving around Turkey’s foreign policy, defense partnerships, and important geopolitical events. It will also include a description of methods and data sources.

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