Turkey has blocked access to Twitter, hours after Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed to close down the social media platform.
“We now have a court order. We’ll eradicate Twitter. I don’t care what the international community says. Everyone will witness the power of the Turkish Republic,” Erdogan said at his campaign rally in the western city of Bursa on March 20, 10 days before the upcoming local elections.
The Press Advisory of the Prime Ministry has later in the night clarified Erdoğan’s statement, arguing that Twitter officials currently “ignore” some court rulings in Turkey, which order the social media platform to “remove some links” as per the complaints filed by Turkish citizens.
“(In Erdogan’s speech) it is stated that as long as Twitter fails to change its attitude of ignoring court rulings and not doing what is necessary according to the law, technically, there might be no remedy but to block access in order to relief our citizens,” the statement said.
Just before midnight, access to Twitter was already blocked in Turkey. The Communication Technologies Institution (BTK), which was given extraordinary powers with the recently passed Internet law, lists three court rulings and one prosecutor decision on its website as the reason of the outage.
Eventually, all Internet service providers (ISP) in Turkey have abided by the rulings, as Turkish social media users have started to figure out ways to circumvent the blocking, like DNS-tweaking and VPN services.
On Feb. 25, Erdogan had accused a “robot lobby” of targeting the government through Twitter messages, while strongly denying the authenticity of new phone recordings leaked onto the Internet and implicating his government in corruption allegations.
During the Gezi Park protests last June, Erdogan described the microblogging website as a “trouble,” claiming that “unmitigated lies are there [on Twitter].”
On March 6, Turkey’s premier had also threatened to shut down Facebook and YouTube “if necessary,” via the controversial recently passed law. YouTube has been repeatedly banned in Turkey in the past decade.
Meanwhile, Twitter has recently started to remove fake accounts created in Turkey with allegedly “manipulative” political motives. Twitter has become an increasingly bitter battleground between pro- and anti-government forces in Turkey in recent months.
21 March 2014