Computatıonal Propaganda

Maintaining a robust network is essential for scholarly collaboration, participation in international research grant schemes and more broadly for becoming a part of the scientific community. In spite of current challenges in terms of new realities of the digital world and its impact on politics, U.S-Turkey academic collaboration provides a potential avenue to strengthen cultural ties between the two countries. Our first object aims to make a positive contribution to the Turkish academic milieu and to broaden the understanding and knowledge of both American and Turkish society, politics, and media.

Computational propaganda is a threat to democracy. Focusing on Turkey, our second objective aims to present compelling evidence on how misinformation and trolling campaigns can manipulate public opinion and hijack the democratic process. Studies focusing on Turkey will add a comparative dimension to research undertaken by the U.S scholars invited to our conference and may even lead to possible policy-making solutions in regards to CP. 

Iran and Russia are both increasingly belligerent international actors who have vested political interests in undermining Turkey’s political and security cooperation with the United States and Europe. Understanding how both actors use CP to further their political agenda is a pertinent issue needing to be urgently addressed. Showcasing examples from Turkey, our third objective aims to shed light on the global CP strategy of both actors.

Turkey presents an interesting case-study as it is a country that has been both the perpetrator and the victim of CP. As the perpetrator, there has been numerous accounts of coordinated attacks against critical citizens and independent media outlets. Although a centralized structure of political trolling is hard to pinpoint, there are many cases in which authorities collaborate with pro-government trolls. Women journalists are also subject to cyberbullying through political pretexts. The Reuter Digital Journalism Report, states that Turkey’s citizens are frequently subjected to fake news. Civil initiatives such as teyit.org attempt to counter misinformation campaigns but need greater support in order to be more effective.  

Turkey has also been the target of CP by actors such as Russia and Iran. In comparison to the U.S and Europe, Russian CP efforts in Turkey follow a less direct strategy wherein pro-Russian accounts engage in “forced perspective” information operations. By manipulating Turkish public opinion, the goal of these efforts is to undermine Turkey’s political and security cooperation with the United States and Europe. Although less overt, there have been reports of Iran ramping up CP efforts in the wake of the recent Turkish incursions into Syria.