The best way to eliminate misinformation and lies is to spread the truth and make sure that everyone, including political parties and civil society, adopts a concrete stance against it, Presidential Communications Director Fahrettin Altun said Friday.
Warning about the dangers of the normalization of lies and manipulated information under the scope of Post-Truth, Altun said some actors, including politicians, utilize lies and make them sound acceptable to reach their goals.
“In the Post-Truth era, disinformation is the continuation of malicious politics on the communications level,” Altun said in an analysis written for the Anadolu Agency (AA). He noted that the spread of false information has especially increased in the digital era and has reached the point where it poses significant threats to countries and societies.
“Disinformation is a destructive weapon that is easy to implement and is difficult to be resisted when implemented,” Altun said, adding that the fight against organized and instrumental lies can only be effective if it is made in a determined manner.
In this regard, Altun said social media users, politicians and the media need to be proactive parts of the struggle.
He argued that political actors, individuals and media outlets who attempt to “change the genetics of truth” poison societies in a Machiavellian approach. Opposition parties in Turkey have adopted such a stance, according to Altun, who criticized them for embracing rhetoric based on fake news and distorted information to manipulate the masses.
One of the examples of such attempts involved the opposition’s claims about Turkey establishing offshore centers for Afghan migrants and refugees based on a report by British media outlets. Altun said even though the report did not mention Turkey at all, opposition parties and media outlets have attempted to provoke society by spreading manipulated information.
The Foreign Ministry had quickly rejected such claims, as Altun said the opposition intentionally exploited the reports to create a negative perception about the government.
In response to media reports that included Turkey as one of the potential locations for British refugee processing centers, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said: "The news in the U.K. press saying there are plans to establish an asylum processing center for Afghan asylum-seekers in Turkey does not reflect the truth.
"No official request has been conveyed to us from any country up until today. Should there be such a request, we would not accept it anyway," the ministry continued.
BBC Turkish – among the outlets that misreported the supposed plans for bases – later issued a correction and apology for its false reporting.
Citing a report by the Oxford University Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, Altun said Turkey, among 37 countries, is subjected to the most disinformation at around 49%, while the figure is around 31% in the U.S. Meanwhile, 61.6% of internet users in Turkey expressed concern about the validity of information they see online, which Altun said indicates people are skeptical about the information they see.
Altun noted that Turkey has taken action against fake news and that the Presidential Communications Directorate has established a platform called “Is it True?” to fact check news spread online. He also said Turkey will continue to take legal steps against actors who attempt to destabilize democracy in the country.
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