Information Operations in Turkey: Manufacturing Resilience with Free Twitter Accounts
Keywords:, Credibility of online content, Social network analysis; communities identification; expertise and authority discovery, Text categorization; topic recognition; demographic/gender/age identification
AbstractFollowing the 2016 US elections Twitter launched their Information Operations (IO) hub where they archive account activity connected to state linked information operations. In June 2020, Twitter took down and released a set of accounts linked to Turkey's ruling political party (AKP). We investigate these accounts in the aftermath of the takedown to explore whether AKP-linked operations are ongoing and to understand the strategies they use to remain resilient to disruption. We collect live accounts that appear to be part of the same network, ~30% of which have been suspended by Twitter since our collection. We create a BERT-based classifier that shows similarity between these two networks, develop a taxonomy to categorize these accounts, find direct sequel accounts between the Turkish takedown and the live accounts, and find evidence that Turkish IO actors deliberately construct their network to withstand large-scale shutdown by utilizing explicit and implicit signals of coordination. We compare our findings from the Turkish operation to Russian and Chinese IO on Twitter and find that Turkey's IO utilizes a unique group structure to remain resilient. Our work highlights the fundamental imbalance between IO actors quickly and easily creating free accounts and the social media platforms spending significant resources on detection and removal, and contributes novel findings about Turkish IO on Twitter.
How to Cite
Merhi, M., Rajtmajer, S., & Lee, D. (2023). Information Operations in Turkey: Manufacturing Resilience with Free Twitter Accounts. Proceedings of the International AAAI Conference on Web and Social Media, 17(1), 638-649. https://doi.org/10.1609/icwsm.v17i1.22175