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

By Mark Lowen
BBC Turkey correspondent, Istanbul
15 November 2018


Image caption
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.



Categories: Asia, Europe, Media, Media and Culture, Turkey

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