Turks Tweet Their Rage at Government’s Twitter Ban
The decision of the Turkish government to block the social media platform Twitter (NYSE:TWTR) across the country did not happen in a vacuum. During mass demonstrations that took place in Istanbul last summer, he labeled social media society’s “worst menace.” On February 28, Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan accused a “robot lobby” of targeting the government through Twitter. The escalation of the Turkish government’s campaign to curtail its people’s right to free expression has seemingly progressed quickly; Erdoğan announced his intention block Twitter — a means of communication that was essential in spreading information for and images of the Occupy Gezi protests — only twelve hours before the ban was implemented just after midnight in Turkey on Thursday. But in reality, the groundwork was laid months and years ago.
Erdoğan appears to be the driving force behind the ban, using a court order to suppress allegations of corruption that have been brought against the prime minister and his government. “Twitter, mwitter!” he reportedly told supporters at a rally on Thursday, according to the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet Daily News. “We now have a court order. We’ll eradicate Twitter. I don’t care what the international community says. Everyone will witness the power of the Turkish Republic.” But despite the fact he has justified the move by pointing to a Turkish court order that demanded the social media platform take down links that had allegedly insulted Turkish citizens; and, despite the fact he has said he does not care what the international community thinks, the attempted blockage of Twitter has been condemned by the world and even caused a rift between the country’s prime minister and its president, Abdullah Gül.
The timing of the ban is key; municipal elections are scheduled for March 30. Blocking such a popular social media platform is indicative of the broader problems facing Turkish society and reflects the growing insecurity of Erdoğan and his allies.