On July 15, Turks didn't just watch a coup attempt unfolding before their eyes. They came out in force to defeat it. Here's how thousands of people mobilised in the streets through social media.

A man takes a selfie on the Bosphorus Bridge.
A man takes a selfie on the Bosphorus Bridge. (TRT World and Agencies)

Social media was crucial in mobilising the public during the 2016 attempted coup in Turkey. News outlets didn't have much to report in the chaos, and some said that they couldn't access YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook at first.

But within a couple hours, Twitter became a crucial source of information.

According to the Hurriyet newspaper, the number of tweets sent between 12:00 am and 4:00 am reached a record of 495,000. It meant a 35-fold increase in tweets in Turkey when compared to an average day.

"They [soldiers] blocked the road, they're sending everyone back."

The public understood that a coup attempt was underway when army soldiers raided public broadcaster TRT and forced a news presenter to read out a statement.

"Literally a coup statement on TRT. No joke, real!"

As the coup plotters declared a de facto curfew with the statement, people began tweeting with the hashtags #NoCoupInTurkey and #darbeyehayir, which meant "no to the coup."

Activists from different political parties and groups began to mobilise on social media to march toward and cluster around areas with high concentrations of rogue soldiers.

According to signal data obtained by Foreign Affairs, it was roughly 10:00 pm when the resistance first began around Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's Istanbul residence in the Kisikli neighbourhood.

"Are you going to tell your grandchild "I watched everything at home with a tv remote, with my pyjamas on?"

Less than 20 minutes after the coup statement, Erdogan made a live appearance on CNN TURK via FaceTime, as the news anchor held an iPhone in front of the camera. Shortly after, he sent a tweet to urge people to take to the streets to stand against the coup attempt, which he implied to be plotted by the Gulenists in the army.

"I urge the Turkish people to take to the streets of our cities, and to convene at our public squares and our airports," he said.

Within hours, thousands more joined those already gathered around the checkpoints that had been blocked by soldiers.

Live Periscope videos showing the clashes between civilians and soldiers on the Bosphorus Bridge streamed on Twitter.

"LIVE in Periscope: They're shooting civilians in the bridge."

Some people reported that helicopters were firing at people gathered around the Presidential Complex in Ankara, the capital.

"Goddamn you dishonorable dogs! [At the presidential palace]"

Meanwhile, "How to stop a tank?" became the most searched question on Google on the night of the coup attempt

Indeed, it worked. Some tanks were captured by civilians within hours of the president's call.

"Thank God, we seized a tank at the airport"

"15 tanks have been captured in Uskudar. Waiting for police…"

On hearing that Erdogan would be captured by army upon arrival in Istanbul, huge crowds flooded Ataturk Airport in solidarity with the president.

Rumours circulated that the coup had failed when soldiers on the Bosphorus Bridge surrendered themselves to civilians and were later taken into custody by security forces.

"Victory chants on tanks in Bosphorus Bridge"

But as people took a deep breath thinking that the coup was defeated, three more bombs were dropped near the Presidential Complex and Gendarmerie headquarters, shaking Ankara, the capital. Hours of the bloody clashes involving unarmed citizens had left more than 249 people dead and 2,000 injured.

Source: TRT World