In­for­ma­tion ver­i­fi­ca­tion and cred­i­bil­ity in so­cial me­dia


Talk­ing TR is a monthly se­ries of talks and dis­cus­sions from lead­ing an­a­lysts and academics on key is­sues for Turkey and the re­gion, filmed in front of a live au­di­ence. This es­say is a mod­i­fied tran­script of the talk pre­sented by Asst. Prof. Erkan Saka of İs­tan­bul Bilgi Univer­sity at Talk­ing TR in Septem­ber. Saka ad­dresses the in­ter­twined is­sues of dig­i­tal rep­u­ta­tion and on­line in­for­ma­tion ver­i­fi­ca­tion in so­cial me­dia Dis­cus­sions are still go­ing on in Turkey as to why so­cial me­dia is nec­es­sary and, among some pow­er­ful groups, th­ese have even be­come the source of a kind of “moral panic.” So, un­for­tu­nately, at some level we have to dis­cuss why so­cial me­dia is needed. But I think we have to go be­yond that. There are so many users in Turkey and there’s a sub­stan­tive mass of users that are able to go be­yond that. When we try to go be­yond the ne­ces­sity of so­cial me­dia, sev­eral is­sues emerge. In fact, there are so many is­sues emerg­ing that maybe we can only fo­cus on some of them. I per­son­ally have fo­cused re­cently on ver­i­fi­ca­tion is­sues, which I’d like to con­nect to dig­i­tal rep­u­ta­tion is­sues.

Per­haps there is some sort of ex­is­ten­tial as­sump­tion that, at the mo­ment, the In­ter­net is re­al­ity it­self -- or, per­haps it is bet­ter to say that the dis­tinc­tion be­tween on­line or off­line is nearly gone. We can­not talk about real life ver­sus on­line or vir­tual life at this stage. Peo­ple may not ac­cept it, but it doesn’t mat­ter re­ally be­cause it is now be­yond our con­trol. And, in par­al­lel to that, I think rep­u­ta­tional is­sues can­not re­ally now dif­fer in the off­line or on­line con­text. When we think about the per­sonal or the group level, or even in­sti­tu­tional rep­u­ta­tions, this must be done in all con­texts. While I will limit my­self to so­cial me­dia, we have to ac­cept that this is not just about so­cial me­dia but ap­plies to all such con­tent. In a way, it’s be­come holis­tic.

My con­tention is that you can’t sim­ply es­cape from so­cial me­dia; some kind of in­volve­ment is in­evitable. Fur­ther­more, it is nec­es­sary to be­come proac­tive in build­ing your rep­u­ta­tion or cre­at­ing dig­i­tal traces on so­cial me­dia.

Some of you might hate Face­book, In­sta­gram or other spe­cific plat­forms, but in prin­ci­ple you will be­come in­volved in some form of so­cial me­dia. In the com­ing years, there will be so many tools so that, for ex­am­ple, even if you don’t like Face­book, you might find your­self on, for in­stance, Snapchat. De­mo­graph­i­cally, Snapchat is still at the high-school level, but its use is in­creas­ing, so it’s re­ally hard to limit de­mo­graph­ics here. You might choose to use only cer­tain tools but in the end, ev­ery­one will use so­cial me­dia in one way or an­other. In fact, you have to use it; there are in­di­ca­tions that em­ploy­ers al­ready look at po­ten­tial em­ploy­ees’ so­cial me­dia traces. Fur­ther­more, we al­ways talk about “check­ing traces” in

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