The decision taken by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan to block access to Twitter is his latest attempt to maintain his hold on a fast-rebelling public. The move came after users shared leaked wiretapped recordings of Erdogan discussing alleged corruption.
Of course, Turkey are not the first nation to down Twitter; Iran, India and South Korea have made moves in recent times to restrict certain content, whilst China and North Korea have even gone as far as forbidding its citizens from even accessing the social network.
How easy is it to block Twitter?
In short, it’s often fruitless. Even in countries with the harshest online censorship laws, there are ways to access banned websites.
What’s more, Twitter is a staunch advocate of free speech and have published various blogs on the matter, most recently last month when it called for more transparency in reference to government surveillance. It does not react too well when threatened with a firewall; Tthey are not afraid to take on a nation in situations like this, and they have already opened up proceedings against Turkey.
In January 2012, Twitter shared a blog post titled ‘Tweets must still flow’ in which the social network reiterated its ‘core value of defending and respecting the voice of each user’. They are also severely opposed to filtering out certain tweets, an almost impossible strategy given that a billion tweets are posted every four days.
On Friday, Twitter released instructions to the Turkish public on how to circumvent the firewall by using Virtual Private Networks (VPNs), allowing them to roam the net undetected.
#TwitterisblockedinTurkey swiftly became the most trended topic this afternoon and Erdogan’s actions have drawn vast criticism across the globe.
The Guardian have even claimed that Turkey’s president flouted the ban and accessed the network from his mobile phone.
The move has been met with scorn throughout the globe. Comparisons have been made with the hermit state of North Korea, whilst Nazli Ilicak, a Turkish columnist, described the move as a ‘civil coup’ during an interview with CNN.
— Štefan Füle (@StefanFuleEU) March 21, 2014
With Turkey holding regional elections at the end of the month, Twitter is likely to be out of bounds for the foreseeable future. With calls to take to the streets once more, the move could swiftly backfire for Erdogan.
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