Ankara opposition mayor warns staff over political use of social media


The opposition mayor Turkey’s capital Ankara issued on Tuesday a notice calling on municipal staff to refrain from engaging in political debates on social media platforms.

Republican People’s Party (CHP) Mayor Mansur Yavaş warned personnel against “using their job and rank in sending political messages’’ or messages that  “target people or institution,” Sözcü newspaper reported.

Yavaş’s notice arrives as the the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government leads an initiative on ethical social media use. Turkey’s Communications Directorate last month issued a social media users’ guide, part of an effort by the AKP to fight what it calls increasing disinformation on social media outlets as masses remain confined to their homes during the coronavirus pandemic.

Yavaş called on his staff to avoid “expressions, symbols, emblems, and other open references to affiliation with a political party,’’ in addition to complimentary remarks about the mayor and other top administrators.

Turkish presidential spokesman Fahrettin Altun last week issued a warning to social media users in Turkey, saying they would be held responsible for what they shared on social media under Law 5651 on online crime.

Altun also warned users against sharing or liking posts that could be deemed manipulative, provocative, or false.

Critics have accused Ankara of increasingly seeking to control social media and stifle dissent online, often using the COVID-19 outbreak as a pretext for clampdowns, warnings, and attempts to pass restrictive new legislation.



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