Ankara’s growing social media army turning up threats against Israel, UAE - columnist

There has been an uptick since June Ankara’s social media troll army, which is dialling up threats against Israel, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Greece and most recently Armenia, said Seth Frantzman said in a column for the Jerusalem Post.

Around 7,000 Twitter accounts were linked to Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), Franztman said, but they appear to have grown in number since and are systematically harassing reporters who follow Turkey, Turkish dissidents, along with anyone who is critical President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

On June 12, Twitter published an investigation, which said it had suspended more than 7,300 pro-Erdoğan accounts for breaking its rules. Twitter’s investigation found that the accounts that sent the messages all appeared to have been coordinated by the youth wing of the ruling AKP, though this has been strongly denied by party officials.

These social media accounts share certain commonalities, Frantzman wrote, including “images from Turkey’s history, including sultans such as Abdul Hamid II or sometimes symbols linked to far-right groups in Turkey such as the Grey Wolves.’’

Such accounts bombard posts that are critical of Ankara with similar wording and images.

Turkey’s ruling AKP combines harassment of critics online with use of social media to highlight the effective of social media to showcase Turkish drone strikes, he added.

Turkey’s Bayraktar TB2, a medium-altitude, long-range tactical unmanned drone is particularly under the spotlight. The UAVs have played a crucial role in Turkey’s military support to Libya’s internationally-recognised government. The country has also used the killer drones in its operations against Kurdish-led forces in neighbouring Syria and Iraq.

“Ankara’s social media army appears to move to back whichever foreign policy the government is about to unleash each week,’’ Frantzman wrote, from supporting the country’s claims in the Mediterranean, to bashing Egypt and Libyan fighters.