First, the background: Turkey recently passed laws that gave the country greater control over the internet. Turkish citizens responded by unfollowing the Prime Minister.
That brings us to the current day situation, in which the government is using those controls to censor the internet. Prime Minister Erdoğan threatened to “wipe out” Twitter because it was being used to expose government corruption. Specifically, Twitter was being used to leak wiretapped recordings. Then, a few days ago, Turkey began to block Twitter users from accessing the platform within the country, all while threatening to block further social networks if attacks on the government continued.
As a result, #TwitterisblockedinTurkey became a top trend globally. Twitter did not issue an official statement responding, but did use their @policy account to offer users assistance and support in using Twitter:
However, blocking the internet is never easy and frequently impossible. Turkish users used Google’s DNS service as a workaround to access the internet. Messages like this began to appear throughout Turkey:
People got the message, and tweets sent from within Turkey actually increased compared to before the ban. Naturally, this encouraged additional crackdowns, as Turkey initiated further bans designed at keeping more people off the internet by blocking the Google DNS. That block remains in effect as I write this entry.
The White House has made a statement on the censorship of Twitter via a statement:
The United States is deeply concerned that the Turkish government has blocked its citizens’ access to basic communication tools. We oppose this restriction on the Turkish people’s access to information, which undermines their ability to exercise freedoms of expression and association and runs contrary to the principles of open governance that are critical to democratic governance and the universal rights that the United States stands for around the world. We have conveyed our serious concern to the Turkish government, urge Turkish authorities to respect the freedom of the press by permitting the independent and unfettered operation of media of all kinds, and support the people of Turkey in their calls to restore full access to the blocked technologies.
This story will likely continue to unfold and speaks volumes about how necessary Twitter, and social media, have become to the spread of information and the undermining of government corruption.