By Mark Lowen
BBC Turkey correspondent, Istanbul
15 November 2018
The BBC’s Mark Lowen has himself been the subject of absurd allegations in Turkish media
A headscarved woman whose baby was kicked while she was urinated on by anti-government demonstrators.
Veteran political activist Noam Chomsky championing President Erdogan in a newspaper interview.
Photos of bloated corpses of Muslims in a river in Myanmar. A video showing Turkish jets blowing up Kurdish fighters in Syria.
All were compelling and widely-shared stories in Turkey. All were completely false.
Turkey is a country where fact and fiction are increasingly hard to distinguish, and where information is weaponised to further divide a profoundly polarised society.
Why Turks are besieged by ‘fake news’
It is little wonder that Turkey ranks first in a list of countries where people complain about completely made-up stories, according to this year’s Reuters Digital News Report.
Almost half its people – 49% – say they faced “fake news” in the week before the survey was taken. In Germany, it is just 9%.
Every day brings new outlandish and unverified claims in the media.
This is fodder for a nation addicted to conspiracy theories – where a senior adviser to Mr Erdogan claimed the president’s enemies were trying to kill him with telekinesis and that foreign TV chefs were spies.
Just 38% here trust the news, the Reuters study shows.