A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Turkey Bans Twitter; Turks Tweet About It Anyway

Turkey banned Twitter today, after Prime Minister Erdoğan threatened to do so at a campaign rally in Bursa. He blames Twitter for spreading links to leaked tapes implicating him and his government to a corruption schedule, and he told the rally, “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.” He also threatened Facebook and other social media.

The power of the Turkish Republic notwithstanding, there was some lag time between the threat and the deed, and before ISPs in Turkey had blocked access to Twitter, Twitter sent this:
So once Twitter went dark online, Turks started messaging their comments, including the cartoons below and lots of denunciation, vociferously tweeting, via SMS, about the shutdown of Twitter. This may not have demonstrated the power of the Turkish Republic quite as effectively as Erdoğan intended. SMS has its limitations of course, but it gave Turks a means to express themselves, at least, to the outside world if not within Turkey.

When the Turkish Parliament passed a new, tough Internet law last month, I noted that "Critics claim that the bill is in response to revelations published on social media pointing to government corruption, and that the intention is to block further revelations." It looks as if those critics might have a point.

1 comment:

David Mack said...

Now that President Gul has used Twitter to express his opposition to the decree, Erdogan has a real political and PR disaster on his hands.