Activism on Zello

Zello is a mobile application which is push-to-talk walkie talkie and a CB radio.  You can find this application on android phones , iphone, ipad , Blackberry or even Windows PC. Zello is free of charge which means everybody can easily download it. It sounds ” Okay this application is fine, but why do i need a walkie talkie?”. In daily life, you may not need a walkie talkie, if you don’t need it for meetings and so forth. However, these kinds of applications are really useful sometimes, even can lead an activist movement.

2013 Protest in Turkey Zello was in the news in June 2013, when Turkish protesters used Zello as a way to circumvent government censors. The Guardian newspaper described Zello as an app “which works like a walkie-talkie, so they can record events and avoid surveillance” Turkish protesters using encryption software to evade censors. Zello was among the top ranked, 5 most downloaded apps in Turkey during the first week of June 2013 according to Reuters. [1] Thus, Zello was one of the main mobile application after Twitter and Facebook through Gezi Park Protests. Many people could meet, help and communicate each other with the help of Zello.

People were bringing the materials, drugs and food to the Gezi Park after they heard it someone on the Zello. They were channels which you can join (as in the picture above), then press and talk which is pretty easy and fast. Some person responds your question or comment on the channel. These conversations were basically about people’s need on the street who were attacked by Police or damaged by the tear gas, but also many people were asking about the general situation like ”Which road can we use to arrive Taksim, Beşiktaş” or ”Is Beşiktaş alright right now, do you need support from Taksim?”. Even when you’re at home not on the street, people were helping and sharing news from Zello and it actually worked.

Some special conversations from the Zello are :

”Do not drink alcohol today, because someone may need you to donate blood.”  , ”Please bring water, plastic glass, fork and umbrella to the Park. ”If you can not get anything, please bring trash bag.”. ”Today, we’re going to have a protest which is reading a book”. ”We need gas mask, helmet , drug , tent etc.”

While I was listening to the Zello through Gezi Park Protest, Koc University students were opened a new channel and it has a special password that only who knows the password can join, and it means the channel was reliable. Many students were meeting on the streets and helped each other when someone says ”WE NEED HELP AT DIVAN HOTEL” or ”Please, we need Rennie , Talcid and gas masks.” or ”Police were attacking in the Gümüşsuyu, they need support!”.

According to the Malcolm Gladwell, the activism through social media is not an high-risk or even real activism, but I disagree with that. Using Zello through Gezi Park Protest is a real activism. People were easily communicated with each other and they really helped out each other which brought us to questioned the word ”high-risk activism”. Some people were dead through protests, which means some people who were using social media can be on the street and can die at the same time. If real activism means physically activism, then it is a real activism through social media. Helping damaged or indigent people should not be underestimated, and people did it with social media. Even these kinds of acts change some people’s mind, I think it is an activism which can lead to a bigger activism. Everything that is happening on the social media is a first step of activism.


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