In efforts to quell free speech in its borders, Turkey has attempted to ban Twitter throughout the country. Information of corruption within the government being tweeted started Turkey’s war against Twitter. The government claims Twitter allows for attacks on one’s character even dubbing these attacks “assassinations”.
Officials attempted to block the popular social network in a failed block of the site. Many Turks were quickly and easily back on twitter mocking the governments attempt at blocking free speech. Even government officials tweeted about the failed ban attempt. They continued to attempt to include the Google Domain Name System which allowed most of the users who signed on to twitter to do so. Turkey’s government has begun looking into IP based bans that will make it only slightly more inconvenient to log on to the social media site. The Tor anonymity network is readily available for those who wish to circumvent the ban.
Besides the failure to keep people off the popular website, tweets out of Turkey rose almost 140 percent during the ban. The ban has only inspired more people to tweet. Though correlation does not mean causation, in this case the ban on an element of free speech will only work in the opposite manner. Bans of protests have always led to more protests. Bans on guns has lead to large stockpiling of weapons. The most obvious failed ban in history was American prohibition on alcohol in the 1920s.
Making an everyday or even victimless aspect of life criminal does not stop the action. Average people becoming criminals should not be the goal of governance. Resources are wasted in order to police a crime that infringes on no one’s freedom and non-violent offenders are forced to enter the prison system and face those who have raped, murdered, or done another heinous act.
The Turkish government has however succeeded in one thing, the attempted bans on twitter have caused most of the populous to forget what caused the bans in the first place. They were able to divert the attention away from the corruption accusation and onto a humiliating excuse of a ban. Even the president called the ban unacceptable.
The international community has come down on Turkey for the ban universally agreeing the attack on civil liberties is not working. Turkey joins a list of nations that took on Twitter and failed. The social media site has been credited in helping the fall of Muammar al-Gaddafi in Libya and Mohamed Morsi in Egypt along with the war in Syria. Citizens on the ground were able to organize on a wide scale against the oppressive governments. Turkey has become yet another example on how bans, blocks, and prohibition will never work. Just like the drug wars across the globe, there will always be business in a developed market, legal or not. If Turkey treated the corruption claims with respect instead of banning a service unsuccessfully, there would not have been any backlash on the global scale. Free speech will always prevail when people attempt to remove it with force. As long as the Turkish citizens continue to fight against the government’s ban, they will be able to continue using Twitter freely.
Opinion By Andy Diaz