YouTube, Facebook and Twitter have reportedly been blocked in Turkey, following the assassination of the Russian ambassador for Turkey in Ankara.
Andrei Karlov was shot and killed by an off-duty police officer while giving a speech at an art exhibition in the Turkish capital. Since the attack on Monday (December 19), accessing social media has been made difficult by “severe slowdowns”. As the Daily Dot reports, the internet freedom group Turkey Blocks were investigating the alleged social media blackout.
The Turkish government has in the past allowed multiple internet shutdowns during times of crisis, like the last coup and after the arrest of opposition politicians in November.
An NGO worker based in Antep revealed that he was unable to access Facebook or Twitter, but could get on other websites. Using a proxy, he posted on Facebook: “Turkish government throttling social media due to the assassination. Telegram, Whatsapp, Skype if you need to contact me.”
In an editorial on their website, Turkey Blocks said: “Neither the country’s most popular ISP TTNet nor mobile providers initially appeared to be affected. Network analysis of the slowdown, which renders social media services effectively unusable, has revealed slightly different characteristics to previous social media shutdowns following national emergencies – investigation continues.”
An “Internet law” updated in 2015 gave ministers in Turkey the ability to ban internet content to do with “national security and public order”. Since 2011, over 150 media bans have been called. Images of a public prosecutor taken hostage prompted a social media blackout, and a bomb attack on Suruc students saw media reports removed. Last week, following a deadly car bombing in Diyarbakir, the country’s biggest internet providers, such as Turkcell and TTNet, were blocked. Instagram, Whatsapp and Skype were also down. Some major VPN services and access to the anonymous network Tor have also been blocked.