Meta, the company that owns and operates Facebook and Instagram, has removed a network of 60 Facebook accounts, 37 pages, 2 groups and 20 Instagram accounts in Turkey that were targeting domestic audiences in the country due to manipulative posts, according to the company’s latest report.
The Turkey section of the report also reveals that among the removed accounts was the page “Büyük Türkiye” [Great Turkey], which was the first to share a sponsored fake video circulated against Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, Recep Tayyip Edoğan’s opponent in the presidential elections.
The video in question, which Erdoğan showed to his supporters at rallies in the run-up to the 14 May elections, includes clips from the campaign video of the opposition’s joint presidential candidate, Kılıçdaroğlu, but with additional scenes featuring Murat Karayılan, the top commander of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), and other members of the Kurdish group, falsely implying their association with Kılıçdaroğlu’s campaign.
In the run-up to the May 2023 elections, government-backed social media accounts had targeted the opposition with smear campaigns against Kılıçdaroğlu and Turkey’s main pro-Kurdish opposition party, the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP).
The report also identified links between the pages and accounts: Büyük Türkiye, Marginale, Genç Mürteci Paylaşımları [Young Mufti Posts], Diriliş Büyük Türkiye [Resurrection Great Turkey] and Gönül Adamı [Man of Heart]. These accounts reportedly have a Facebook advertising budget of $667,000 and are known to post primarily about Turkish politics and current events in Turkey and the region. This includes expressing support for the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its policies.
The report highlighted that these groups and pages are sometimes moved to fake accounts to avoid scrutiny and hide their true identities. The report also provided details of the social media agencies in Turkey involved in these activities.