Fake news in Turkey: Hunting for truth in land of conspiracy

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Fake news in Turkey: Hunting for truth in land of conspiracy

A composite image reveals our correspondent Designate Lowen on the pages of tabloid-fashion papers, in Turkish

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The BBC’s Designate Lowen has himself been the topic of absurd allegations in Turkish media

A headscarved lady whose minute one used to be kicked while she used to be urinated on by anti-authorities demonstrators.

Worn political activist Noam Chomsky championing President Erdogan in a newspaper interview.

Photography of bloated corpses of Muslims in a river in Myanmar. A video exhibiting Turkish jets blowing up Kurdish combatants in Syria.

All had been compelling and broadly-shared stories in Turkey. All had been entirely unfounded.

Turkey is a nation the set up truth and fiction are increasingly aggravating to distinguish, and the set up info is weaponised to additional divide a profoundly polarised society.

Why Turks are besieged by ‘counterfeit data’

It’s far minute wonder that Turkey ranks first in a list of international locations the set up people complain about entirely made-up stories, in conserving with this year’s Reuters Digital News Document.

Nearly half of its people – 49% – boom they faced “counterfeit data” within the week prior to the see used to be taken. In Germany, it is ravishing 9%.

Each day brings contemporary extraordinary and unverified claims within the media.

Right here is fodder for a nation hooked on conspiracy theories – the set up a senior adviser to Mr Erdogan claimed the president’s enemies had been attempting to smash him with telekinesis and that international TV cooks had been spies.

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This Turkish account called the BBC’s correspondent a “provocateur” sent to duvet a march inspiring Turkish opposition chief Kemal Kilicdaroglu

Inflammatory rhetoric pervades the media, ninety% of which is estimated to be pro-authorities. That is on narrative of opposition shops were steadily shut down, branded “terrorist propaganda”, or financially crippled.

Newspapers that survive support no longer as models of journalism but as authorities mouthpieces, which were currently handed the leaks from the killing of Jamal Khashoggi. That led the enviornment to swallow what they printed, reasonably than treating them with the identical old warning.

Turkey is the enviornment’s best jailer of journalists, ranking 157 of a hundred and eighty international locations within the clicking freedom index of the watchdog Newshounds With out Borders.

Honest 38% right here have confidence the information, the Reuters learn about reveals.

How a web notify debunked 500 counterfeit stories

Fertile ground, then, for Turkey’s first just web notify devoted to truth-checking on-line cloth. Teyit.org takes its title from the Turkish word for confirmation.

Founded in 2016 by a young journalist, Mehmet Atakan Foca, its group probes the authenticity of pictures and stories that coast on-line.

Foca, who did an internship on the BBC Turkish carrier, says they now get bigger than 30 tip-offs a day about suspicious-attempting cloth, and spend a diversity of core journalistic abilities and digital abilities to take a look at them.

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The Teyit group occupy debunked rather heaps of of news in their first two years

“To model out the anguish of counterfeit data, or no longer it is no longer adequate to post articles about misinformation,” he says. “We want to educate people and provides them the tools to toughen their capability for verification.”

All through the last two years, Teyit has debunked 526 unfounded stories. Many are political, the spend of doctored pictures or unfounded social media claims about politicians.

Others occupy far more severe consequences.

This account is allotment of a series by the BBC on disinformation and counterfeit data – a worldwide anguish extraordinary the manner we share info and gaze the enviornment spherical us.

For more consult with www.bbc.co.uk/beyondfakenews

When pictures of three men had been printed on-line and labelled as these that killed 39 people in an assault on Istanbul’s Reina nightclub, Teyit traced the men and disproved the allegations.

One in every of the wrongly accused, Metehan Alim, suggested us a defamation case against six media shops is ongoing.

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Lots of Teyit’s debunked stories are political, or model out social elements

“Turks are fundamentalists with our beliefs,” he suggested the BBC. “We want to learn what we already contemplate. We resist science or information. We contemplate in myths as a change.”

One of the stories debunked by Teyit are world.

At the height of the violence in Myanmar against Rohingya Muslims, the Turkish finance minister tweeted pictures that allegedly confirmed victims. Teyit chanced on they had been from in other places.

The Myanmar authorities formally complained and the minister used to be pressured to delete the tweet.

Even extinct Ankara mayor Melih Gokcek, notorious for conspiracy theories, retracted a tweet exhibiting a photograph purportedly of flood injury to a avenue. It had been debunked by Teyit, and he even credited the truth-checking web notify.

How I grew to turn into a target for counterfeit data

But I’m gathered attempting ahead to Mr Gokcek to make your mind up out his unfaithful inform that the BBC rented a hotel room overlooking Besiktas football stadium ravishing prior to it used to be attacked by suicide bombers in 2016.

Supposedly, that allowed me to broadcast dwell within minutes – and urged that we had been complicit or knew of it prematurely.

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Media captionDesignate Lowen reported on the Besiktas bombing some ninety minutes after the assault

The absurd allegation used to be disproved by Teyit, exhibiting my first dwell broadcast from our BBC location of job ninety minutes after the assault and debunking a video that falsely translated my phrases.

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Teyit debunked the Besiktas allegations, exhibiting that the dwell document came from the BBC location of job

After four years in Turkey, I’m getting light to such baseless claims.

Pro-authorities dailies continually command I’ve been sent from London as a provocateur to chase up social unrest.

One needs a thick pores and skin in this nation.

Rise of the ‘counterfeit truth-checkers’

“News literacy is amazingly low in Turkey,” says Mehmet Atakan Foca. “It be more about propaganda. Other folks dwell in an echo chamber, accusing others of being terrorists or pro-authorities, creating unfounded stories to toughen their opinions.”

Even truth-checking itself is light as a machine in a nation riven by mistrust and division.

One web notify claims to be an just verifier of data, but is primarily trudge by a prominent columnist for Sabah, the principal pro-authorities day after day, and her husband. As an different of authenticating sources or pictures, it pushes the authorities line, discrediting perceived criticism of President Erdogan.

“There just isn’t this kind of thing as a freedom of info in Turkey”, Mr Foca says, “so counterfeit truth-checking websites are light as propaganda.”

“They’re one other weapon of authorities”, he provides.

Controlling info, peddling unfounded stories, fuelling the “us and them” narrative: these are all tactics of authoritarian governments.

They are all principal challenges for the truth-checkers aiming to switch beyond counterfeit data.

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