Digital Activism and Censorship in the Post-Gezi Era

Tuesday, 12 July 2016: 16:45
Location: Hörsaal 26 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Perrin OGUN EMRE, Kadir Has University, Turkey
Gulum SENER, Arel University, Turkey
Gezi Movement, the uprising against the neoliberal politics of the ruling party (AKP), represents a milestone for the emergence of digital activism and citizen journalism in Turkey. Social media and mobile phones, which were mostly used for entertainment became technologies of resistance. Similar to many square protests in various countries, Gezi activists were mobilized around social networks where they communicated, coordinated the movement, especially through Twitter and Facebook. Gezi resistance was intertwined with the interaction of offline and online performances of activists, who created a symbolic resistance space via the internet. They constructed a collective identity, leaded new ways of resistance, especially cultural jamming.

Two years after Gezi protests, activist media still continue to resist despite the state censorship and repression. While the government is attacking alternative voices using brand-new ‘state apparatus’ (Althusser) such as surveillance technologies, trolls, internet censorship, hate speech and/or legal sanctions, activist media create their own survival tactics. Turkey ranks 149th out of 180 countries in the 2015 World Press Freedom Index. Moreover, in February 2014, the former prime minister increased oppression via telecommunications authority (ICTA) over Turkey’s internet users, such as storing user data for up to two years, or blocking URLs without court approval. Also, Erdoğan ordered to ICTA to block Twitter and YouTube in March 2014.

In this presentation, we will focus on the news production practices of Turkish alternative media under the censorship. How can digital activists deal with this censorship? Which survival tactics are used for it? Our methodology consists of in-depth interviews held with the editors of alternative media networks between July 2013-August 2015. Furthermore, we made observations on the working methods of media activists in both online and offline world.