Director of Communications Fahrettin Altun said, "There can be no freedom for lies, terrorist propaganda, hate speech and systematic disinformation. The press is the guarantee of democracy and freedom in real terms. News and information are the primary focus for this".
Presidency's Director of Communications, Fahrettin Altun, addressed the opening session of the Digital Media Panel organised jointly with the International Media Information Association (UMED) at the Presidency's Directorate of Communications. Altun began his address by congratulating the November 24 Teachers' Day and expressed his gratitude to the valuable teachers who instil knowledge in generations of students.
Wishing Allah's mercy on Ayşenur Alkan, who was martyred in the treacherous attack of the terrorist organisation YPG/PKK a few days ago, as well as other martyred teachers and all other teachers who passed away, Director of Communications Altun said, "May Allah rest their souls in peace. I wish good health and well-being to our teachers who dedicate themselves to preparing the brilliant children of this country for the future, as well as to our retired teachers who have held this respected position".
"Today, we are observing the repercussions of immense change and transformation brought about by technological advancements in all spheres, from the economy to media and international relations to social interactions," Director of Communications Altun said.
Noting that "digitalisation" is one aspect of this change, the Director of Communications Altun stated that many people define this age as the digital age because of the all-encompassing influence of digitalisation.
Emphasising that the media sector is one of the sectors where digitalisation is felt most strongly, Director of Communications Altun continued his words as follows:
"Today, we are confronted with the reality of a 'new media' rising on the internet and digital technologies. Digital media platforms provide important gains in terms of access to information, democracy and participation. It is also a fact that digital media technologies facilitate access to information and, in this sense, democratise information. However, these platforms also contain challenges, new problems, and even threats and dangers in various aspects, from personal rights to national security, from distortion of truth to the institutionalisation of a culture of sensation."
"New media environments are dominated by fake identities"
Director of Communications Fahrettin Altun stated that new problems have been added to the traditional media ethics problems for a variety of reasons.
The most important reason for media ethics problems, according to Director of Communications Altun, is identity confusion and even lack of identity in digital media, new media, and social media.
“Each of us exists in social environments with our identities, and we perform our social roles with these identities. This is how we carry out our professions. A journalist reports news with his/her identity, acquisition, social position, name, and opinion, and then seals the news, signs it, and leaves a trace of his identity. Unfortunately, today's digital media and new media environments are dominated by a lack of identity, or fake identities. The ease with which fake profiles and distorted identities can be created in new media channels allows false information and distorted facts to spread very easily. Especially when this is accompanied by what we call the institutionalization of sensation, new media ethics issues, human, social, or economic destructions emerge alongside the desire for more interaction.”
Director of Communications Altun stated that manipulated news or posts that instil chaos, fear, and anxiety for the sake of interaction deceive the reader, viewer, and follower and almost lure them into a trap.
Director of Communications Altun emphasized that new technologies and social platforms give everyone the right to broadcast and film, adding, "Media professionals, in my opinion, should primarily object to the fabricated broadcasting that is becoming more common in digital media. It is a great assurance in terms of values and professional principles that there are media institutions and press members who do not abandon the line of truth in both the traditional and digital media environment."
Director of Communications Altun stated that the manipulation and disinformation attacks directed at Türkiye through the media in the past continue in an even more complex structure with the participation of digital channels in the process, and that the opportunities provided by digital channels are being used as an apparatus of malicious politics, all ethical rules are being disregarded, and unreasonable, fake and distorted news are reported.
"Disinformation is widespread particularly through the misuse of digital means and social media"
Noting that disinformation, which they refer to as the "plague of the communication age," is a threat that must be combated collaboratively, Director of Communications Altun stated:
“Disinformation is clearly widespread, particularly through the misuse of digital means and social media. This is not just a problem to be addressed on the axis of speed and freedom. Regulations in this area contribute to democracy rather than interfering with freedom. These regulations are steps taken to protect and ensure liberty, personal rights, and public safety. We must state unequivocally that There can be no freedom for lies, terrorist propaganda, hate speech and systematic disinformation. The press is the guarantee of democracy and freedom in real terms. In practice, the press is the guarantor of democracy and freedom. News and information are the primary focus for this. Disinformation is the most serious threat to this process.”
Director of Communications Altun stated that both individuals, media, public and institutions in this sector are responsible for creating a cleaner and safer social media and communication environment, and said, "As you remember, our President called for a national and international communication mobilization in order to explain the thesis and claims of our country and to combat disinformation. As the Presidency’s Directorate of Communications, we are waging a struggle for truth in line with this vision. All our relevant institutions are also carrying out their work in this direction."
Centre for Combating Disinformation
Director of Communications Altun underlined that the law, which encompasses numerous social media regulations for the purpose of combating disinformation, went into effect last month.
Director of Communications Altun stated that, as the Presidency's Directorate of Communications, they consolidated their past activities under the newly founded Centre for Combating Disinformation, adding:
"We believe that our Centre for Combating Disinformation, along with the legal regulations that have been enacted, will enhance our commitment to the truth. Recently, we have once again understood that disinformation also poses a threat to national security. Consider the systematic disinformation and provocative posts in traditional and social media concerning the terrorist attack on İstiklal Avenue and the cross-border operations of the Turkish Armed Forces. We can, to some extent, grasp why terrorist organisations and their backers who support them in any way would act the way they do. But we truly struggle to find the right words for those who disseminate information distorted by terrorist organisations, discuss these lies seriously on their channels, and, on top of that, appear on the channels of the terrorist organisations or feature terrorists on their channels — all for the sake of appearing charming to a certain circle and possibly garnering social support and a few votes. We find it unacceptable."
Presidency's Director of Communications Altun pointed out that it is essential to combat disinformation, which has turned into a mass weapon and has become a national security problem.
Explaining that people and groups who deliberately and intentionally undermine social communication processes, using disinformation as a tool and turning it into a systematic attack are a nasty method of warfare, and simply digital terrorism, Director of Communications Altun said, "Terrorist organisations and their supporters, who cannot cope with our security forces on the ground, conduct perception management operations regarding our fight against terrorism using social media and media outlets. However, we thank Allah that we cope with all of these one by one. Just as our soldiers destroy terror nests, the relevant institutions of our state are also waging an effective fight against those who disseminate terrorism and make propaganda for the terrorist organisation on virtual or digital platforms. We do not and will not allow anyone to deceive and discredit our country and our citizens with fake news."
High Level of Awareness Concerning Social Media Usage
Director of Communications Altun stated that it is a fact that users on digital media platforms are exposed to a massive barrage of information and disinformation.
Director of Communications Altun noted that it is of great importance to have an awareness and careful presence in digital media and continued as follows:
"So, how can we achieve social media usage with a high level of awareness? At this point, I think that the modelling of Francis Bacon, a philosopher who wrote in the late 16th and early 17th centuries, can help us draw an analogy. He used three analogies to model those engaged in information and science: Those who are like spiders, those like ants, and those like bees. Bacon considers those who generate ideas at their desks spiders, producing spider-like theories. As known, spiders spin their webs from a substance found in their own bodies and wait for a fly to become entangled in the web so that they can eat it. Some people are just like them. They develop theories and ideas at their desks that have no connection with one another or with external reality. So, what do those who are like the ants do? According to Bacon, they also mindlessly collect data but have no idea what to do with it. Ants constantly collect and store food to eat in the winter, but they do not process them at all and do not even eat most of them. Some people are like that. They constantly collect and store information, but they never process it. According to Francis Bacon, those who collect, process and produce are like bees. In fact, bees wander around the flowers, gather nectar, process it and eventually make honey. Therefore, I think we can use this model of Bacon, including three analogies, to classify social media production and consumption processes."
"We should take advantage of digital media's opportunities"
Director of Communications Altun stated that it is necessary to be like a bee in digital media, especially in today's world, where people are exposed to a barrage of information and disinformation.
Director of Communications Fahrettin Altun also said:
"With billions of pieces of information, we don't have the luxury of creating ideas at our desks that have no connection with external reality, as spiders do. We do not have the luxury of filling our bags with useless information and acting a smart aleck, as ants do. It has no meaning, either. We must be selective, gather the nectar of news and information, analyse them in our minds and hearts, and produce thoughts and ideas as an output, as bees do. Our President has stated that the Century of Türkiye will also be a century of communication. Undoubtedly, digital media will be one of the fundamental pillars of the century of communication. Despite the challenges and threats of digital media, we must face them and take advantage of their opportunities. I would like to express my gratitude to those who will work like bees for the truth in digital media and play a role in the communication campaign for the Century of Türkiye."
Director of Communications Altun congratulated UMED for its activities to raise awareness in the field of digital media.