All quiet on Twitter as Turkey censors social networks

Published November 6th, 2016 - 10:23 GMT
Social media faces considerable censorship in Turkey (Pixabay)
Social media faces considerable censorship in Turkey (Pixabay)

Twitter has been quiet in Turkey over the weekend as social media and messaging services have been severely restricted nationwide, in what was reportedly an attempt by the government to prevent unrest following the arrest of 11 leaders of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic party (HDP) on Friday morning.

The TurkeyBlocks internet censorship monitoring network reported restrictions on access to Facebook, Twitter and Youtube, and to messaging services WhatsApp and Skype, across the country beginning on Friday morning. The site reported that the government was using throttling, a means of making websites unusable by drastically slowing them down. The limitations seem to have extended into Saturday, as some managed to defy the restrictions and report their frustration on Twitter:

The censorship seems to have been an attempt to limit media coverage and popular protest to the detainment of two leaders and ten MPs from the second-biggest opposition party in Turkey, HDP, which the government claim are sympathetic to the aims of the Kurdish separatist group, the PKK. The arrests are an escalation of the Turkish government’s ongoing crackdown on political opposition following July’s attempted coup.

While this is the most widespread internet blackout in several years, it is not the first time the Turkish government has engaged in internet censorship.Twitter’s 2015 transparency report detailed that in the second half of the previous year, Turkey had submitted more than five times the amount of content removal requests of any other country. Indeed, during the recent failed coup, TurkeyBlocks reported increased restrictions on social media.

Although the use of Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) has previously allowed Turks to get around government restrictions, it appears that even these were targeted on this occasion. Local reports suggested that the the Turkish information technologies and communications authority, or BTK, had requested that internet providers block Tor and several other VPNs.

Twitter users remained defiant, widely sharing ways to get around the ban:

It seems that even Erdogan does not have the authority to quell the power of social media then.

RA

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