Turkish Twitter ban ineffective, extremely unpopular after 2.5 million tweets were reported by the social media site after the ban was imposed, and many EU ministers blasted the decision as a violation of the human right to self-expression and freedom of speech. The Turkish government says the ban is in place due to “illegal documents” that were tweeted that places Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in center of corruption allegations. Believing the ban is part of a cover-up, the move has drawn harsh criticism from both the Turkish people and nations overseas.
The ban came hours after Twitter ignored order to remove content related to the graft investigation, followed by threats to shut down YouTube and Facebook as well. But the ban has proven ineffective as Turks continue tweeting through a variety of workarounds and loop holes. The Turkish Twitter ban has been implemented through Domain Name Service (DNS) poisoning, which scrambles the translation between domain names and IP addresses, but Turks have been using international DNS servers that Turkey has no control over, such as Google’s, to reach Twitter unhindered. Users can select their server manually and the address for Google, 18.104.22.168., has been spray painted on several buildings. Perhaps the most embarrassing flaw in the plan is that mobile Twitter platforms are completely unaffected, meaning anyone with a smart phone and the appropriate app can still access the site.
Further proving the Turkish Twitter ban ineffective and extremely unpopular is the use of Tor by several Turks, a service that hides the location from which users connect to the internet behind a proxy. By selecting a proxy server with an international address, they appear to be connecting from a different country and are able to bypass the restrictions. Despite the complete lack of positive response and ease with which Turks have bypassed the ban, Erdogan has said that he will “dig Twitter up by the roots” and does not care about international response, saying that the allegations of corruption are meant to ruin his chances of municipal elections set to take place on March 30th.
The main offenders in Erdogan’s eyes are two anonymous Twitter users who have been publishing raw materials nearly every day that they claim are wiretapped audio recordings of ministers that bring into question everything from their religious piety to the proper use of funds in their control. The ministers involved and Erdogan claim that the recordings are either doctored or assembled from a montage of quotes from other press releases.
The popular view of the Turkish Twitter ban as ineffective and extremely unpopular is gaining even more momentum as many people are saying there is no point in continuing to try to silence those who are speaking out against Erdogan because their statements have already been heard and are widely available. As the election date looms, this attempt by Erdogan to protect his image as a capable leader may backfire, as there is very little support for the move on an international level, and very few people are ever happy with having something taken away.
By Daniel O’Brien