On the strategic level, the challenge is to do the greatest amount of good with the limited resources at hand within the shortest amount of time. On the ground, there is only one objective – to save as many lives as possible.
To suggest that this is not the government’s utmost priority from the President down is madness. The good international standing and connectivity of Türkiye have enabled aid and resources to flow into the country quickly. That was made possible by effective communication with international agencies, governments, and non-governmental organisations.
In a crisis, control of critical infrastructure is required. Social media is now considered a critical infrastructure.
The action regarding Twitter was a stop-gap measure in the face of destabilising misinformation. In the months and years to come, it will become a much-studied case study for crisis communications and disaster response. In this context, there was too much information flowing, and it was not part of the effective response by the government or first responders – in effect, it was noise. Media reports of the rescue efforts have put a value on moments of quiet to hear the sounds coming from the victims.
It is important to remember that much of the communication taking place is within the algorithm-empowered business models of global media platforms. As such, they are open to manipulation and profiteering via Coordinated Inauthentic Behaviour (CIB) through Coordinated Violating Networks (CVNs).
The convergence of external elements, including cold weather, rain, and conflicts around the region, has added to the challenges for the government and the first responders.
They are dealing with people who went to bed a few days ago and woke up in a nightmare. As such, the primary emotions they are dealing with include despair, anger and sadness, with an element of hope. Of course, with time, hope fades. In terms of crisis management, it is crucial to understand that government and responders are dealing with the grief cycle of individuals, families, communities, the entire nation, and the Turkish diaspora worldwide.
While the earthquake has hit Türkiye, the scale of this crisis demands that the response is now a global responsibility. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will continue to lead from the front. Now is not the time for criticism, now is the time for solutions and effective response. Everything else is a distraction, a distraction that could cost lives.
The thoughts and prayers of the world remain with the people of Türkiye.
This letter to the editor is written by Nordin Abdullah, Founder of the Crisis Management Centre.