After a bombing atrocity on Monday in a South Eastern Turkish city, Turkish web users found Twitter blocked across the country and not for the first time this year.
Turkey is no stranger to social media and website blocking with Twitter leading the way for the site being the most blocked and unblocked over recent years. While Twitter take the forefront in the ban stakes, other sites such as YouTube, Facebook and more have also found themselves victim of Turkeys harsh internet blocking regime.
The latest bombing caused Turkey to spring into action making use of a 4 hour blocking law that came in to effect at the start of 2015. The law allows officials to request nationwide blocks of any site within 4 hours of a request to remove content that they find objectionable and Twitter was one such site in this case.
After images of the bombing were published on the 140 character social media site a request was made to have them removed. While Twitter took down a portion of the images they failed to fully remove all those available and so under the 4 hour ruling Turkey required ISPs within the country to block access.
Quicker than a Turkish shave the social media site was plunged into darkness across the whole of Turkey with users who have found ways to circumvent such blocks flooding the site with tweets using the hashtag #TwitterBlockinTurkey. No sooner had word spread the hashtag was trending worldwide.
The hashtag was trending within hours.
No sooner is the site blocked but unblocked
It was reported by Reuters that the site would eventually become unblocked after Twitter agreed to remove the remaining offending images. By mid-day Wednesday the block removal was confirmed by Turkish news site, Anadolu Agency, who had removed earlier reports and updated their headline to read “Turkish court lifts Twitter ban after decision to censor Suruc attack images”.
While the unblocking may come as a partial victory for Turkish users who make use of the social media site the greater implications are clear. Turkey now confirms itself as one of the leading repressive internet regimes who feel it just to block sites within a short space of time to censor images or information that goes against their standards.
While I do not condone the sharing of graphic images the Turkish government now have absolute say over what their citizens can and can not view online with very little time for oversight or consideration when implementing such blocks.
Transparency reports published by Twitter show that the Turkish government and other Turkish organisations made up the bulk of requests for removal of content and accounts on the social networking site.
Out of 376 requests due to court orders made between the period of July to December 2014, 328 of them alone came from Turkey. These figures are further compounded with 149 of 420 requests from Government, Police or other similar such agencies also being made by Turkey.
As Turkey plays ping pong with websites users are moving en masse towards using VPN services on a permanent basis to ensure that when such blocks are in place they can still access sites by circumvention techniques.
Users in Turkey wishing to avoid such future blocks should consider signing up to a VPN service from IPVanish or VyprVPN and can find further details in our previous How to use Twitter in Turkey article or by comparing VPN providers in our VPN Comparison Guide.