The role of the Internet as a fundamental tool for communication and empowerment is one that should not be inhibited as the limitless nature of the medium allows for a broader, unfiltered, and more democratic exchange of information. These features become increasingly important in conditions where the mainstream media are unwilling or unable to provide the public with the information necessary to function as democratic citizens and maintain political accountability. Though an open Internet tends to be valued by more democratic governments, the percentage of countries adhering to the standards of open and free media is dismally low. In a majority of countries, governments maintain a stringent level of control over many of the mainstream information outlets, making the Internet a vital source of alternative information for the people living within these environments.
While media censorship is certainly not a new phenomenon, it becomes especially noteworthy when a country experiences a sudden setback in the realms of media independence and freedom of information. Such cases allow for a more nuanced observation of how much the public values media freedom and their expectations of media performance. Turkey is a striking example of how a sudden dip in media freedom may impact the social and political climate of a country.
This survey report is a product of an ongoing research project by faculty and graduate students at the Ohio State University and Koç University with support from the Center for Global Communication Studies’ Internet Policy Observatory at the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School of Communication. The data in this report was collected between December 20, 2014 and February 2, 2015 and represents the views of 1161 respondents from that time. The goal of the project is to understand how people in Turkey perceive and value the debate over Internet freedoms in Turkey and how they employ the Internet and social media as alternative information resources within a heavily censored mass media environment. This is an important question more broadly as 85% of the globe’s population live within censored media systems like Turkey.
Click here to read an accompanying blog post by Bilge Yesil reflecting on the report’s findings and what it means for researchers, policymakers, and internet freedom activists in Turkey
This report is part of a series of publications that seek to uncover the nuances surrounding the demand for internet freedom through public opinion research. Click here to view the report “Benchmarking Demand: Russia’s Appetite for Internet Control.”