In an attempt to cover up allegations of high-level corruption in the Turkish government, Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced on Thursday at a campaign rally that he would be banning the popular social-networking website Twitter within the nation. Time quotes the PM as actually saying, “Twitter, twitter!” when announcing the ban and his contempt of the web. The ban has led to increased upheaval amongst Turkish citizens emboldened by social movements in both the Middle East and Ukraine.
Here is what you need to know:
1. The Twitter Ban Began on Thursday
On Thursday, after the announcement was made at a campaign rally for the Prime Minister, people across the nation of Turkey found that they could no longer log onto Twitter. A head of a local election, Turkish news outlet Todayszaman reports that Erdogan said to a crowd of followers, “The international community can say this, can say that. I don’t care at all. Everyone will see how powerful the Republic of Turkey is.”
2. The Prime Minister Has Been Accused of Corruption
Many believe the shut off of Twitter, as well as the threat to block similar websites such as Facebook and Youtube, is due to the recent proliferation of corruption accusations against Erdogan and his government. Specifically, the Twitter ban was announced after an alleged secret wiretap recording surfaced on Youtube of Erdogan instructing his son to move millions of dollars in cash from their house in light of ongoing corruption investigations.
3. Google Refused to Take Down Certain Youtube Videos
RT reports that the Turkish government, and specifically the Prime Minister, has reached out to Google in an attempt to block any allegedly incriminating Youtube videos in Turkey. Google has rejected these requests, despite Erdogan’s objections, because they do not see any valid legal reasoning the videos must be removed.
4. Twitter Users Are Finding Ways Around the Ban
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
As an act of disobedience, people have begun spray painting DNS 188.8.131.52, the free and public Domain Name System provided by Google. The DNS can be accessed by changing network settings and will allow people to access an internet free of national restrictions. This has allowed activists rejecting the ban to get on Twitter.
According to Mashable, in the 24 hours after the ban, 1.2 million tweets had been sent from Turkey, clocking in at around 17,000 tweets every minute.
5. Protests Have Ensued
A women shows her feelings to Turkish government. IZMIR/TURKEY pic.twitter.com/ixjb0B6wtr
— Daria (@MaschaTR) March 16, 2014
Given Turkey’s geographical and ideological straddling of both the Middle East and Europe, the people of Turkey have been witness to the ousting of corrupt governments in both MENA and Ukraine. As such, there have been renewed protests in Turkey with people demanding Twitter be unblocked.