Twitter is now blocked in Turkey and both YouTube and Facebook are next after the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan stated that he will “eradicate” the social media platform possibly prior to the elections that are set to take place on March 30. The decision to shut down the microblogging service comes after audio recordings demonstrate that the PM may have been involved in a major corruption scandal which leaked all over the internet. YouTube already has a history of restrictions in Turkey after the government considered that some videos posted on the platform insulted the country’s founder, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.
Turkey blocked Twitter late Thursday, a few hours after Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan threatened to “eradicate” this social media platform and suggested that YouTube and Facebook are next. During a campaign rally in the northwestern city of Bursa on Thursday, the Prime Minister told the crowd that the authorities now have a court order which enables them to “wipe out” the microblogging service which exploded with critics about a possible major corruption scandal in which Erdogan plays the leading role. At the same time, the Turkish Prime Minister stated that he does not care “what the international community says” and implied that the Turkish Republic is strong and the world will see its power. Soon after the declaration, Twitter went dark and the only way to use the service happened by means of mobile telephone text services, a solution offered by the social media company’s public policy team.
Controversial Law Seen as Censorship
Last month, Turkey passed a controversial law which allowed the authorities to tighten control over the internet and block access to web pages without a court order within hours. Moreover, the Communication Technologies Institution (BTK) mentioned that there are currently four court rulings which explain the latest block. Hurriyet Daily reported about the fact that Twitter did not change its attitude and continued to ignore court ruling, which determined Turkey to block the social media service and hinted at the fact that YouTube and Facebook are next in line to be silenced, “if necessary.”
The EU commissioner for digital agenda, Neelie Kroes reacted strongly with regard to the situation in Turkey and defined these actions as “groundless, pointless, cowardly.” She also tweeted that the “Turkish people and international community will see this as a censorship,” but she did not shy away from stating that what Turkey is doing to Twitter is, indeed, censorship.
Reuters stated that the social media service is currently looking into the problem.
The decision of the Prime Minister came after multiple recordings emerged on all social media platforms, including YouTube and Facebook in which Erdogan was meddling legal, political business and media affairs outside the law. In some recordings, he is caught while teaching his son how to hide millions of euros in the house and in others, he criticizes an editor of a major newspaper for presenting him in a negative light. Ten million Turkish users were blocked from the social media service and could only tweet via telephone text messages. After Twitter was blocked in Turkey late Thursday, the Turkish Prime Minister added that YouTube and Facebook are next, “if necessary.”
By Gabriela Motroc
The Economic Times