A soft-spoken parliamentarian, it’s easy to overlook Fatma Benli in a busy cafe until she starts recalling the disinformation campaign that nearly derailed her election bid two years ago. The small room we’re in begins to shudder as the sitting MP for the ruling AK Party passionately explains that she could have lost because of fake news and online narratives. “There was fake news circulating on every major social media platform,” the 44-year-old told Al Jazeera, reeling off a litany of examples where she and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan were repeatedly attacked in spurious social media posts. “Facebook, Twitter, it came from all sides.”
With just days to go until Turks head to the polls for presidential and parliamentary elections, millions of voters are once again being bombarded with a deluge of fake news reports which could sway the biggest election in nearly a century.
President Erdogan and his ruling AK Party are expected to narrowly win the June 24 poll, but experts say it could be a tight race due to fake news, with dozens of fake stories emerging every day, many of them disseminating anti-government propaganda.