While Twitter celebrated its 8th birthday, Turkey’s government raised a blanket on the network citing reasons that it is creating tensions for the current government. Turkey, which is going to witness elections by the end of this month saw Twitter being banned by Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The attempt made by the Turkish government is being said as a “protection measure has been taken” for Twitter. However, reports are also stating that it is an attempt to curb the conversation on reported evidence of his involvement in a corruption scandal as key local elections are on the horizon.
Meanwhile, Twitter which has been under immense pressure from the Turkish government since mid 2013, has offered an SMS workaround in the country. It has advised Turkish customers of Avea and Vodafone to text “START to 2444.” Turkcell customers can text “START to 2555.”
Besides Twitter has issued an official response condemning Turkey’s actions.
We stand with our users in Turkey who rely on Twitter as a vital communications platform. We hope to have full access returned soon.
— Policy (@policy) March 21, 2014
The blocking of Twitter has already backfired the government with people opposing it aggressively; the hashtag #TwitterisblockedinTurkey became a globally trending topic on Twitter. Social media analysis firms Brandwatch and We Are Social report that Turkish tweets last night and this morning are up by a massive 138 percent.
According to Guardian, Turkish users collectively tweeted 2.5 million times since the ban went into effect, potentially “setting new records for Twitter use in the country,”
Erdogan who had earlier stated in an unyielding tone that he did not care about the international response has received strong words from various nations on this move.
“He’s going in the wrong direction,” the EU’s digital commissioner Neelie Kroes told CNBC. “What we have to do is put it in plain language that it’s not acceptable.”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel also criticized the ban. ”It doesn’t fit with our idea of freedom of expression to forbid or block any form of communication,” Merkel’s spokeswoman Christiane Wirtz told Turkish news oulet Today’s Zaman.
Even Turkish President Abdullah Gul stands against the prime minister’s actions, and he took to Twitter to express his disapproval, saying that he hoped the ban would not last long.
Meanwhile, the Turkish lawyers’ association has asked the court to overturn the ban. Turkey’s main opposition party has also said that they are seeking to end the ban.
Banning social media is nothing new to the country but the latest move has outraged the citizens of Turkey and the protests are happening online as well as offline. Users have been spreading their knowledge using hashtag #DirenTwitter online. Offline, residents of Turkey have spray-painted graffitti on balconies and government portraits with the public DNS addresses to spread the word.
Twitter is blocked in Turkey. On the streets of Istanbul, the action against censorship is graffiti DNS addresses. pic.twitter.com/XcsfN7lJvS
— Utku Can (@utku) March 21, 2014