attempt to block access to Twitter appeared to backfire on Friday with
many tech-savvy users circumventing the ban and suspicions growing that
the prime minister was using court orders to suppress corruption
allegations against him and his government.
telecommunications authority confirmed early Friday that it had blocked
access to the social media network hours after Prime Minister Recep
Tayyip Erdogan threatened to “rip out the roots” of the website. Tweets
have proliferated with links to recordings that appear to incriminate
him and other top officials in corruption.
By midday Friday, tweets were continuing unabated as users swapped
instructions online on how to change settings. One enterprising user
spread the word by defacing Turkish election posters with instructions
on beating censors.
President Abdullah Gul, a political ally of
Erdogan’s, was among those who circumvented the order, which he
contested in a series of tweets. “I hope this implementation won’t last long,” he wrote.
“Prime Minister Erdogan’s move spells the lengths he will go to censor
the flood of politically damaging wiretap recordings circulating on
social media,” said Emma Sinclair-Webb, senior Turkey researcher at
Human Rights Watch.
Andrew Przybylski, a researcher at
Britain’s Oxford Internet Institute said the ban appeared to be working
through the Domain Name System or DNS blocking, which was easy to work
He said many Twitter-hungry Turks manually changed the
DNS settings on their computers and in their phones to point to Google’s
Domain Name System, which isn’t affected by the ban.
many users trying to access the network instead saw a notice from
Turkey’s telecommunications authority, citing four court orders.
Turkey’s lawyers’ association asked a court to overturn the ban,
arguing it was unconstitutional and violated Turkish and European human
rights laws. Turkey’s main opposition party also applied for a
Twitter’s (at)policy account earlier sent out
messages telling Turkish users in both English and Turkish they could
send out tweets by using short message service, or “SMS.” It was unclear
how those tweets would be viewable.