Turkish users of the social network are hitting back as the Prime Minister vows to ‘eradicate Twitter’
In the table of international tweeters, Turkey comes a respectable eighth, boasting millions of users. However, the network's ability to carry rumours of government corruption has led Prime Minister Reep Tayyip Erdoğan to issue a blanket ban on Twitter. The service was banned just after midnight on Friday, two weeks before the Turkish general elections – and some speculate that this ban is to intended to instigate more street protests and violence.
"Twitter and the rest, we will root out all of them," Erdoğan declared at a political rally yesterday. "I don't care what the international community says, they will see the power of the Republic of Turkey."
Any users attempting to access Twitter in the country are taken to a page informing them that Twitter is unavailable, citing government orders allowing them to ban it and reassuring them that it's for their own protection, in a similar vein to internet-restricted countries such as North Korea and Iran.
But the citizens of Turkey are fighting back. Some have sprayed non-Turkish IP addresses onto posters of Erdogan's party to help people access Twitter, others have responded by making their own satirical images of the Prime Minister and posting them online.
The hashtag #twitterisblockedinturkey is trending on Twitter, as celebrities, journalists and activists hit out against the ban. Speaking on Thursday night, the United States State Department expressed concern over “any suggestion that social media sites could be shut down”.
This isn't the first time Erdoğan has expressed his frustration at the lack of control over Twitter, although the ban is by far the harshest steps he's taken to curb the social network. And it doesn't stop at Twitter, either: he's also expressed the desire to ban YouTube and Facebook, declaring: "We won't allow the people to be devoured by YouTube, Facebook or others. Whatever steps need to be taken we will take them without wavering."
This is the latest controversy to hit Turkey after huge protests against the ever increasing dictatorial nature of Erdogan's reign. Riots erupted ten days ago after a 15-year-old boy was killed as a result of police brutality, and the Prime Minister is still fighting allegations of corruption within his ruling party, the AKP.