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As voters in Turkey prepare to vote in decisive parliamentary and presidential elections on May 14, social media is playing a central role in shaping the debate.

Turkey’s mainstream media, where most people get their news, is heavily aligned with the government. A Recent study found That last month state broadcaster TRT devoted 32 hours of coverage to the speeches of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, but just 32 minutes to the speeches of Kemal Kilikdaroglu, his main rival for the presidency. Therefore, opposition parties have resorted to social media based on independent news websites and live streaming platforms to reach out to the Turkish public.

But online platforms, such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and others are also where the consequences of a highly divisive political campaign led by the government have come to the fore. In the past week, a Twitter account name work Various Turkish people began circulating threats of a fake “sex tape” aimed at discrediting another presidential candidate, Muharram Ince, who contributed his return By running After the completion exposed by an Independent Researcherused to eat temporarily disabledApparently whoever operated it.

Social media companies have been inconsistent and non-transparent in their approach to content moderation and account authenticity, which contributes to Turkey’s case. preload scavenging political scene. Forums should ensure that they are devoting adequate resources to fulfill their human rights responsibilities, especially during elections.

Turkey’s government has amassed an arsenal of powers to control the Internet and enforce sanctions such as arbitrarily removing material critical of Erdogan or the government party. As Human Rights Watch discussed on May 10 briefing issued jointly with Article 19The government has historically used these powers to suppress dissenting voices and even enhanced these powers last year, There are increasing opportunities to throttle platforms that do not comply with take-down demands.

As election night approaches, it is imperative that social media platforms and the wider Internet remain accessible so that the public can follow the work of independent election monitors and reporting around vote counting. Given the pathetic state of Turkey’s mainstream media, the integrity of Turkey’s election depends on it.

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