Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan really hates Twitter. He really, really hates it. In the past year, he's tried (unsuccessfully) to ban Turks from using the site, along with YouTube. For Erdoğan, social media is a fundamentally untrustworthy form of communication – especially since it's been used to spread information about government corruption.
Now, Önder Aytaç, a Turkish journalist who writes for Taraf, one of Turkey's leading opposition newspapers, has been hit with a 10 month suspended sentence by the Ankara First Criminal Court of Peace. And it's all because of something he tweeted in 2012. What's worse is he claims it was a typo.
Translated loosely into English, it reads "close the classroom, maaate" before linking to Aytaç's article about a controversial education programme supported by Erdoğan. But see that "k" in "ustammmmkk"? It changes the meaning of "ustam" to "fuck you".
Aytaç claims that the tweet was in fact a typo and cited his big fingers as the cause of the defamatory content. "I'm quite a big man," he told the Daily Dot. "My fingers are quite big as well. Sometimes you can't properly hit all the letters."
Typo or not, should anyone go to prison for a relatively innocuous insult? The tweet was barely noticed by social media standards, racking up a measly seven retweets and three favourites. Type "David Cameron" into a Twitter search and you'll find much worse.
This is the latest incident where Erdoğan has attempted to stamp his authority on Twitter, which has included blocking Twitter accounts that have leaked government recordings. Ten days ago, it was revealed that the government has blocked two anonymous accounts which had leaked recordings revealing government corruption.
Aytaç is now due for the High Court, where the decision and it'll be decided whether it's OTT to send someone to prison for a vaguely derisory tweet (or typo).
Follow Thomas Gorton on Twitter here @angstromhoot
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