A car bomb ripped through the Turkish capital of Ankara on Sunday, killing at least 37 people in a massive explosion not far from parliament. The attack, which comes less than a month after another car bomb in the city left 29 dead, is the latest escalation in violence since a cease-fire between Turkish forces and Kurdish militants broke down in July of last year.
— Esin E. (@esi_ee) March 13, 2016
Fighting had been mostly constrained to the southeast, but citizens and outside observers alike fear this is only the beginning on widespread attacks on Turkey’s urban centers. In the immediate aftermath of the attack, however, they found information hard to come by:
We're jumping between international news channels because Turkish ones only have idiot analysts making up conspiracy theories. #Ankara
— Ahmet A. Sabancı (@ahmetasabanci) March 13, 2016
Reporters on the ground also had challenges getting information out:
— Arwa Damon (@arwaCNN) March 14, 2016
A court order was allegedly given to restrict social media access after images of the bombing were shared online.
#Ankara court imposes ban on Facebook + Twitter after images from the blast scene are shared. Broadcast ban from the scene still in place
— Selin Girit (@selingirit) March 13, 2016
— Engelli Web (@engelliweb) March 13, 2016
While Turkey’s media conditions have been in decline for years, some observers found the lack of information during a crisis particularly galling:
Something especially tragic about the world having more access to information about the terror attack in Turkey than those living in Turkey.
— Can Yeginsu (@Can_Yeginsu) March 13, 2016
Still, some observers did sound a note of caution against the use of social media during a crisis.
That’s not fair. Social media can whip up a terrible panic unnecessarily. Having been involved in the Great Japan Earthquake I know first hand how unhelpful misinformation is.
Experts say that the question of the next terror attack in Turkey is not if, but when. As the long shadow of violence from Syria and Iraq continues its spread inward, access to independent, verified information will remain critical — even as it continues to deteriorate.