Turkey shuts down Twitter

The Turkish prime minister, furious that an audio implicating him in a corruption scandal was posted on Twitter, has vowed to eradicate the social media service, and has blocked it nationwide.

“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,” Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said at a campaign rally.

Twitter struck back, by tweet of course, letting Turkish users know that they could still send tweets using their cell phones:

turkey-bans-twitterThe ban, so far, seems to be of Twitter’s Web service.  It’s not clear if users can simply use apps on their phones and tables to access Twitter.

The prime minister’s office claims that Twitter has not responded to court ruling telling it to remove certain links.

The BBC reminds us that Turkey also famously blocked YouTube for two years, only to release its block in 2010.

It’s difficult to listen to the Turkish prime minister’s warning that “everyone will witness the power of the Turkish Republic,” and not hear Percy Bysshe Shelley’s poem “Ozymandias,” always one of my favorites:

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed:
And on the pedestal these words appear:
“My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away

It also sounds a lot like Khrushchev’s “we will bury you.”

Speaking of Turkey’s former, and perhaps soon-to-be-again, neighbor, Russia is also censoring the Internet in an unrelated attempt to clamp down on dissent, particularly surrounding its invasion and annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea region.

The Kremlin does not censor, however, the Russian-based Web pages that local neo-Nazis use to organize the serial kidnappings of gay people in that country, some as young as 13 years of age.


Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown (1989); and worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, and as a stringer for the Economist. Frequent TV pundit: O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline & Reliable Sources. Bio, .

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  • 2karmanot

    “Everyone will witness the power of the Turkish Republic”, I am conjuring up Donald Duck.

  • 2karmanot

    Turkey has always been a primitive backwater…….survivor of the Midnight Express.

  • Mighty

    Really this is the answer? shutting down twitter. That is gonna solve all of Turkey’s problems? puuulleeeeze. First there are other social media outlets and people can just switch to them. Are they going to cut those off as well? Why not the entire internet?

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  • MyrddinWilt

    The opposition has been plastering Erdogan’s posters with DNS 8.8.8.8

    Its the address of the Google DNS service that does not implement the Twitter blocking.

  • Indigo

    Political theater, it’s all the in the rage.

  • HeartlandLiberal

    Yet another reason why the US must retain control of Internet domain name services. Here is an article in Forbes: http://tech.fortune.cnn.com/2014/03/17/us-internet-domain-names/

    “Although the U.S. has long intended to give up its role overseeing the
    system of managing Internet domain names, the proposed transition has
    already attracted critics
    who fear that the Internet’s free and open nature could be jeopardized.
    At the same time, the plan has received positive feedback from several
    major technology companies, including Google, Comcast, AT&T and
    Verizon.”

    By unilaterally retreating from online oversight, the Obama administration is playing directly into the hands of repressive governments world wide which will not hesitate to undermine and destroy network neutrality and access. If we allow control of the Internet to be turned over to the International Telecommunications Union under auspices of the UN, we can kiss the open Internet goodbye, and with it the last best hope for freedom of communication among the peoples of this planet trying to free them selves from the oppression of the corporate oligarchy which is seizing control of governments and economies worldwide.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-switch/wp/2013/09/18/protecting-the-open-internet-may-require-defunding-the-itu-heres-how-to-do-it/

    Regaining control of the mass media by which the people are informed is a primary goal of the oligarchy. It must be fought tooth and nail.

  • goulo

    I like how he equates himself with the entire Turkish Republic, as if all Turks support his desire to ban Twitter.

    When he says “Everyone will witness the power of the Turkish Republic”, I think he means “Everyone will witness the stupid angry anti-democratic megalomania of the Turkish prime minister”.

  • http://americablog.com magster

    Ozymandias was the best and most f’ed up Breaking Bad episode. I miss that show.

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    I’ve wondered sometimes, when these autocrats do stuff like this, if they actually, truly believe they can “stop the signal” as the saying goes, or if like everybody else knows, they realize it’s nothing but bluster and theater.

  • Thom Allen

    Erdogan is just another two bit dictator who has held control of the government much too long. He’s pissed because one of his corrupt deals got exposed, so he’s going to restrict the freedom of Turkish citizens and “punish” Twitter.

    He doesn’t care what the international community says? He would if the EU uses economic sanctions. He would immediately be kissing European ass to get money flowing into the country. “The power of the Turkish Republic”? Seriously? Ooooh, be afraid, be very afraid.

  • http://musephotos.wordpress.com/ GarySFBCN

    I was in Turkey when Youtube was blocked. It was so easy to work around the block that it only required two extra clicks of the mouse.

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