Over the weekend, the internet may have saved the regime of the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. In a blinding display of irony, the longtime critic and proponent for strict regulation of the internet utilized Apple’s Facetime video-calling app to mobilize citizens against a military coup.
Erdogan, who was on vacation at the time of the coup, utilized the application to call on citizens to take to the street and fight off the military officers attempting the coup. Surprisingly the citizens listened leading to the coup failing, and subsequent purges of political rivals by the increasingly totalitarian government.
Utilizing the internet in this way to mobilize citizens is unprecedented for the country, whom routinely monitor and control internet activity for its citizens. Even going as far as stopping social media use during the coup to control the flow of information.
The internet tends to resent being manipulated by dictators or totalitarian governments in general, demonstrated with the subsequent drop of an email cash following the events in turkey. The email cache containing leaked emails from the AKP —the dominant political party of Turkey — dubbed the Erdogan Emails, was released on WikiLeaks. Prompting an immediate stop in all internet traffic from Turkey, as access to the site was cut off.
While the continence of the emails is still being digested, and accessed by the populous of Turkey and news reporters the implications of the continence is still up in the air.
But what does this mean?
The interest in these developments for me at least, is the implication of how much power the internet has over people and governments alike. We have seen the power of social media to bring people together for a cause before, with events like the Arab Spring and others. But this is the first time it has been used to effectively manipulate a populous into defending a leader, who by all accounts should be hated by those he governs.
The internet has taken hold quickly, and has been a resource for lightning fast communication and information. But with our continued reliance on it comes a startling revelation, whomever controls the internet’s ebbs and flows controls those whom rely on it.
Which is to say, everyone.