Strategic Communications, Information Wars session held at Stratcom Summit in Istanbul

The Strategic Communications and Information Wars session was held Saturday at the Stratcom Summit 2021, with a top Anadolu Agency official among speakers at the Istanbul event.

Anadolu Agency’s board member and a member of Medipol University’s communication faculty, Yusuf Ozkir, gave information about the concepts of strategic communication management, public diplomacy and the basic elements of strategic communication.

He said Turkey exists as a country of goodness not only in military, diplomatic or foreign policy terms, but also in a humanitarian, conscientious sense and it has a thesis on a global scale.

Turkey is the country that has provided the most humanitarian aid in the last five years, according to global humanitarian reports, he stressed.

Turkey's approach to well-being on a global scale is within the framework of aid, but on the one hand, it is also seriously supported through media outlets that make up Turkey's soft power, noted Ozkir.

"We can say that the publications of Anadolu Agency in 13 languages and TRT in different languages have a seriously positive effect in this sense," he said.

Recalling that Turkey was selected as the "most generous country" in 2017, 2018, 2019 according to the data by the global humanitarian aid report, as well as being in the position of the second most generous country in 2015 and 2016, he noted that in the past five years, Turkey has provided $35 billion in humanitarian assistance to different countries.

"During the pandemic period when the whole world was going through this difficult process, Turkey both experienced this process itself and, on the one hand, sent medical devices and supplies to almost 160 countries,” he said.

Mentioning that Turkey has been on the global agenda in lots of contexts in the last few years such as military capacity, defense industry, mobility in its foreign policy, and the economy, Ozkir underlined that another issue where Turkey draws attention the most is foreign aid.

“Thanks to these foreign assistance, Turkey wins the hearts of people and takes steps without relying on any interests or pragmatism to create long-term results.

“With this, we can say that it has achieved an important result in the context of strategic communication and public diplomacy and has brought the image of Turkey to a point that is equivalent to good on a global scale."

-Companies turning into transnational actors

Another Anadolu Agency board member, and member of Istanbul University’s Communication Faculty, Ismail Caglar, said digital media is a force field that no state should leave empty, adding that states that are advantageous with strong infrastructure in this regard have started regulation.

"While the administrative demands of the central countries are being met, you have to bring a court decision when you make this request from Turkey or anywhere else in the world,” he said.

“Administrative decisions are not processed, even court decisions are often not processed. So there are states involved.

“These companies themselves have become transnational actors," said Caglar.

Pointing out that “the truth” is open to being fictionalized in new media platforms, he noted that the concepts such as freedom of expression, freedom, democracy and human rights have been emptied this way.

“For example, we are not asking the following question; what percentage of your investment in advertising algorithms do you make in data security.

“What percentage of your investment in advertising algorithms do you make to prevent the killing of truth in your own medium?," he said, adding that it will lead to a "digital dictatorship," citing the closure of the social media accounts of former US President Donald Trump, Brexit and Cambridge Analytica.

- ‘Disinformation can be prevented with social media literacy’

Turgay Yerlikaya, a member of Istanbul University’s communication faculty, said cybersecurity is now considered an important issue in Turkey and has become a major component of national security.

"The reason for the establishment of the Stratcom center within the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is the work done to manage information wars and to make the effects of Russia and China on the West and Eastern Europe dysfunctional, especially in the non-Western world,” he noted.

Yerlikaya added that Turkey and the world are moving toward a context where they will discuss and raise the issue of digitalization of these information wars much more in the next few years.

Kilic Bugra Kanat, SETA (Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research) Washington DC director of research, said information wars are not a new issue, one that has been experienced since the emergence of modern media.

"The technique may be different, the audience may also be different from place to place, but the methodology here, the goals are usually the same,” said Kanat.

“When we look at it, we see an information war led by a more professional group, especially before the internet-based information wars.

“We see a systematic struggle that goes on not only one-hit, but also continuous, highly professional, long-term preparation through intelligence. The present one is a little more flexible. Faster, more reactive," he said.

“We need to understand that we are an actor against disinformation and that the public can prevent this at any time, both with social media literacy and with the training that will be given,” he added.

Source: Anadolu Agency