Twitter censors Turkey’s TRT World amid Syria operation

ANKARA

U.S.-based social media platform has reportedly been censoring an English-language Turkish media outlet that informs the Western audience since Turkey started military operation to clear PKK/YPG terrorists off its long southern border and create a safe zone for displaced Syrian war victims.

Turkey’s national news outlet TRT’s English Service, the TRT World, has been targeted by Twitter, according to its directors. 

Serdar Karagoz, the editor-in-chief of TRT International Channels, expressed his disappointment with Twitter restricting their content and said: “The truth hurts”. 

“Twitter’s recent ban on TRT World’s content raises concerns over Twitter’s credibility for providing a platform for free speech,” Karagoz told Anadolu agency.

Turkey on Oct. 9 launched Operation Peace Spring to eliminate terrorists from northern Syria in order to secure Turkey’s borders, aid in the safe return of Syrian refugees, and ensure Syria’s territorial integrity.

Ankara wants to clear east of the Euphrates River off the terrorist PKK and its Syrian offshoot, the PYD/YPG.

In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK — listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S., and the European Union — has been responsible for deaths of 40,000 people, including women, children and infants.

Users who want to follow TRT World account or read what it has to say about the ongoing military operation bump into a censor wall, saying: “This tweet is not available because it includes potentially sensitive content”.

American Twitter users said it is “completely blocked” in the U.S.

“Labeling TRT World’s content as “sensitive” and blocking access to our account illustrates that Twitter serves a certain ideology. Moreover it shows the platform has a huge loophole for manipulation,” he added.

TRT World executive said they “will continue to be a source of reliable information for audiences seeking truth”.

“Shame on you @Twitter,” said Fatih Er, head of TRT World’s U.K. office, and added that they will continue to “tell the truth” to the Western audience.

Efforts to reach the social media company for comment have so far been unsuccessful.

Twitter’s recent policy against TRT World raised eyebrows about who really manages the editorial content and flow of information.

On Sept. 30, London-based online news outlet Middle East Eye (MEE) broke the story of a senior Twitter executive, Gordon MacMillan, who was in charge of company’s editorial content for the Middle East.

MEE story established that MacMillan, an employee of Twitter’s U.K. office for 6 years, is also a part-time officer in the British Army’s psychological warfare unit serving with the 77th Brigade, a unit formed in 2015 to develop “non-lethal” ways of waging war.

The 77th Brigade, MEE said, uses social media platforms such as Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, as well as podcasts, data analysis and audience research in line with the national interests of certain countries.

MEE also cited Gen. Nick Carter, the head of U.K. military, who reportedly said the 77th Brigade is giving the British military “the capability to compete in the war of narratives at the tactical level, to shape perceptions of conflict” at a time when British Prime Minister Boris Johnson expressed his discomfort with Turkey’s counter-terror operation along with lawmakers of the U.S. and EU. 

Censor unites

Turkish nation, international journalists and civil society organizations rallied in solidarity with TRT World, which has nearly 250,000 followers, in face of Twitter censorship. 

“It’s a part of information war against Turkey to block the real information coming from the original source,” Pervez Bilgrami, an Indian journalist, told Anadolu Agency.

“It also shows the success of TRT World in challenging the fake news propagated by old and established news networks,” he added.

The Society of Turkish Americans (TURCA), a Los Angeles-based NGO, said it condemns the bias and Islamophobia of Twitter, and urged all Turks and Muslims who love Turkey to subscribe to and follow foreign language outlets of Turkey.

“When it comes to Turkey and Muslims, they hate freedom of speech and press,” TURCA said.
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