Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has spent significant political capital combatting social media networks, and Twitter in particular, having previously called the platform a “knife in the hand of a murderer!” But now the man sent out his first tweet on his account @RT_Erdogan.
So far, he has used his official account to promote moral values.
“Today, February 9 is World Quit Smoking Day! Be strong-willed and do not surrender to a cigarette.”
Bugün 9 Şubat Dünya Sigarayı Bırakma Günü. Bu zehre karşı sen de iradene sahip ol ve #SigarayaTeslimOlma RTE
— Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (@RT_Erdogan) February 9, 2015
Erdogan is a Muslim. The faith forbids followers from consuming tobacco and alcohol.
“The account in question has just been opened,” announced Mücahit Küçükyilmaz, the head of public communications of the president. “It’s his excellency’s own account. Tweets from him are signed ‘RTE’. He wanted to make a start on a meaningful day like this.”
Staff tweets will appear without the signature. The account was opened in 2009, but not by Erdogan himself. Küçükyilmaz claims it was run “by young people who love the Beyefendi [a reverential term meaning gentleman].” Now the account is verified and will only be used by Erdogan and his staff.
His public remarks condemning social media began in June 2013 when he was prime minister. Turkish citizens at the time used Twitter and Facebook to organize protests against Erdogan. The government then banned Twitter and YouTube in March 2014, but the constitutional court overturned the law.
Twitter’s latest transparency report showed a 40 percent “rise in the number of requests from governments around the world since its last report, in July 2014” for personal information. The United States made 1,622 requests, which is the most in the world. However, Turkey is in second place, with 356 requests. Twitter claims they did not comply with Turkey’s requests. Turkey asked Twitter 477 times to remove content, which is the most in that category. Russia is in second place with only 91 requests.