Turkish Presidency launches department for combatting 'perception operations'

A ‘Department of Strategic Communication and Crisis Management’ has been established within the Turkish Presidency's Directorate of Communications, the directorate announced on Friday.Turkey’s official gazette said that the Presidential Decree establishing the new body was intended to "combat all kinds of manipulation and disinformation by determining the activities of the 'psychological, propaganda and perception operations' against Turkey."

According to the Communications Directorate, the new department’s duties include “strategic communications and crisis management during the times of crisis, natural disasters, emergencies, wars and mobilization periods.”The announcement comes two days after the establishment of a Directorate of Security and Emergency Coordination Centre, which will integrate surveillance systems and government ID cards containing RFID chips with driving license information on them.

In March, Presidential Communications Director Fahrettin Altun wrote on Twitter that “we are also going after terror groups like FETÖ, the PKK and DHKP-C who actively wage disinformation campaigns to undermine our public health and safety measures” , according to Daily Sabah.In another recent announcement, Turkey and Azerbaijan have decided to launch a joint media platform together to counter ‘black propaganda’, according to Communications Director Fahrettin Altun. Turkish state broadcaster has also launched a Russian media platform in 2020 to fight “disinformation and manipulation”.

Meanwhile, Turkey has been accused of spreading misinformation itself in the past, with Twitter suspending over 7,300 accounts in June which were part of a social media network providing support for Turkey’s government and its policies.