Disinformation rose significantly during the COVID-19 pandemic, leading to a rise in far-right ideologies and xenophobia around the world, but proper use of communications can help fight this, Turkiye's communication chief said on Sunday.
Turkiye stands for truth and using the right communications tools for peace and stability, as well as presenting its narratives to the entire world, raising the country's reputation globally, said Communication Director Fahrettin Altun at an international forum for youth in the Mediterranean resort city of Antalya.
“Disinformation has grown a great deal during the pandemic. We have seen that the lie has become normal,” Altun said, advising young communicators to work to access accurate information and avoid internet manipulation and disinformation.
Noting that communication has changed since the 2010s, he said digitization is the most important feature of modern communication.
“Algorithms, disinformation, content bombardment, misinformation operations, and blockchain are the challenges and opportunities we face in the great communication transformation,” he said.
Underlining that the world is facing a “very serious power struggle,” Altun said the Western colonial order, which has been around since the 19th century, still exists.
Turkiye has been resisting "Western dependency" for the last 20 years, he said, adding that it has faced both existential and growth challenges.
However, the country has scored successes in its fight against the status quo thanks to strong leadership and stability, he said.
Turkiye has adopted a political power mechanism in which the people's free will is central, he noted.
He spoke at Stratcom Youth: International Young Communicators Forum, a six-day event co-organized by Turkiye's Communications Directorate and the Youth and Sports Ministry which attracted 100 young communicators from 13 countries and 42 universities.
Altun explained to young communicators at the forum his efforts to institutionalize Turkiye's communication model.
“We believe that communication is indispensable. We call on communications for truth, stability, peace, and trust. Along these four lines, we think that communication will strengthen Turkiye and serve a great and powerful Turkiye,” he said.
Turkiye's communication model will be strengthened mainly with the contributions of young communicators, he said, adding that it will be permanent when it is built together.
"We tried to ensure that our country fights disinformation in the international arena and also tried to explain the people's theses to the international public as well as build a communication model. We’re still engaged in this effort and trying to institutionalize this effort," he said.
"We want to build a communication model in the defense industry, in the healthcare system, in foreign policy, in the field of humanitarian aid, as in the new economic model. We hope that this model will come to life in a way that will further strengthen the brand value of our country," he added.
On the state information system, Altun said news and images about Turkiye in the foreign press are gathered, analyzed, summarized, and translated before being delivered to the relevant authorities.
Turkiye regularly sends corrections to the press against disinformation in order to fight fake news, he said, adding that those phony contents are based on ideological motives.
Despite serious conflicts in the region, particularly since 2010, Turkiye has emerged as the power that has restored stability to the region, said Altun.
“Since 2015-2016, you can clearly see that there would have been serious turbulent conflicts in the Middle East today if Turkiye had not intervened,” he added.
Active foreign policy and effective counter-terrorism “makes Turkiye go on to the next level," he said, adding that through such techniques as disinformation, coups, terrorist attacks, bureaucratic oligarchy, and economic operations, powers pushing tutelage tried to divert this path to oppression.
Stressing that Turkiye has turned into an effective and respected power in this process, he said it has become a country that can win both at the table and in the field.
On the Russian war on Ukraine, Altun said Turkiye carried out intensive diplomatic communications with Russia, Ukraine, and all international actors.
The country has done everything possible to achieve a cease-fire and long-term peace in the region, he added.
A grave humanitarian tragedy was seen in the region, and humanitarian corridors should be provided as soon as possible, he added.
At least 3,309 civilians have been killed and 3,493 others injured in Ukraine since Russia launched a war on the country on Feb. 24, according to UN estimates. The true toll is feared to be much higher.
More than 5.8 million people have fled to other countries, with some 7.7 million people internally displaced, according to the UN refugee agency.