Future Tense

Turkish Prime Minister Blames Twitter for Unrest, Calls It “the Worst Menace to Society”

Turkey Erdogan protests
Police use a water cannon to disperse protesters outside Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s working office in Istanbul’s Besiktas district, on June 2

Photo by OZAN KOSE/AFP/Getty Images

Protests have engulfed Turkey’s Taksim Square, and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan knows exactly what’s to blame: Twitter.

In a news conference, Erdoğan dismissed the protesters as “looters” and “bums” and blasted the country’s opposition party for provoking them. But he reserved his fiercest words for the microblogging site, which has become a hub for activists and a major news source as Turkey’s mainstream media have downplayed the unrest.

News agencies have differed in their translation of Erdoğan’s exact words, but he either called Twitter a “curse,” a “menace,” a “scourge,” or some combination thereof. For good measure, he followed up by unloading on social media at large. Here’s the New York Times’ rendering of his full quote:


Now we have a menace that is called Twitter. The best example of lies can be found there. To me, social media is the worst menace to society.

The worst! Worse than poverty, climate change, crime, or even the opposition party. Who says Erdoğan is heavy-handed?

His views aside, the prime minister appears to have no immediate plans to combat this menace/curse/scourge—despite scattered reports of Internet outages, the tweets continue to roll in, along with the Facebook posts, Instagram pics, and Vine videos. Oh, and Foursquare check-ins. As I write this, some 2,530 people are checked in to Taksim Gezi Park, leading Foursquare to conclude that the park is “busier than usual.”