For two weeks Turkey was, in theory, without Twitter. Today, a constitutional court ruled that the ban breached freedom of expression. (No shit.) According to Twitter users, #TurkishTwitter is now back up and running.
Banned by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Twitter provided an easy way for people to organise street protests and openly criticise the rampant corruption in his government. Erdoğan also blocked YouTube after a leaked recording surfaced of government officials discussing war with Syria as a "good opportunity". It's little wonder that he makes comments like "social media is the worst menace to society" – basically, he bans anything that outs him as a corrupt maniac.
But was the ban effective in the first place? Probably not. Last month, Turkish internet activists circumvented the ban in classy cyberpunk fashion by spraying DNS codes onto posters of Erdoğan's AKP party. Using a different DNS (Domain Name Settings) means that you can hide your location and trick your phone or laptop into thinking that you're somewhere else.
If you didn't manage to see any DNS graffiti, no need for alarm – just download Hotspot Shield. 120,000 Turks downloaded the virtual private network (VPN) last year. It's a mobile service that allows you to access the internet undetected, making tweeting a piece of cake. In one weekend, Hotspot Shield experienced a growth in popularity of three thousand fold, all thanks to Erdogan's fear of the WWW.
Or you could just do things the old fashioned way and SMS your tweets. Twitter's global public policy team set up a support network through which Turkish users could send their tweets by text. Unfortunately only one Turkish mobile phone network, Turkcell, supports pictures, so any cartoon satires of Erdogan had to wait.
Turkish users: you can send Tweets using SMS. Avea and Vodafone text START to 2444. Turkcell text START to 2555.— Policy (@policy) March 20, 2014
So it would appear that a fortnight of a "Twitter ban" didn't really matter anyway. Some Turkish Twitter users, however, reckon it's a good thing to keep using encryption anyway. You never know who might be listening in, right?
Follow Thomas Gorton on Twitter here @angstromhoot
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