On Friday Turkey hit the headlines as the military tried to organise a coup and overthrow the government. Scores were killed and countless others injured and although it would appear control is beginning to be regained the story brought with it censorship issues where the internet is concerned.
When news of the attempted coup hit, social media was reported as being inaccessible across the majority of Turkey. Some conflicting reports from users suggest they were still able to access sites such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, however for the majority of Turkish citizens, all three sites were completely blocked.
Twitter account Turkey Blocks that monitors and reports on blocked sites in Turkey tweeted that all three sites were down across Turkey for a period of 2 hours which was ongoing. At the time of writing, no further update have been issued by Turkey Blocks but it is evident that most Turkish citizens weren’t able to access those services at the time the attempted coup first took place.
— Turkey Blocks (@TurkeyBlocks) July 15, 2016
Turkey is no stranger to internet censorship and it is often the case when news that puts Turkey or its leadership in a bad light hits headlines that social media is the first to feel the wrath of a countrywide block.
With censorship becoming a common affair Turkish users have begun to utilise other methods to access the internet namely Virtual Private Network (VPN) services. VPN services from companies such as IPVanish allow Turkish users and citizens of other countries to encrypt their internet connection and tunnel out of the country they are in to access the internet via another location.
A VPN is a two pronged solution for Turkish users. Firstly it allows access the internet in a safe and encrypted manner meaning the government can not see what services users are accessing and secondly by routing the connection via another country it enables services that are blocked within Turkey like Facebook and other social media to be accessed.
More conflicting reports suggest that after 1 hour the block was lifted with Twitter issuing a statement that they did not believe their site was fully blocked but that access speeds were being throttled to disrupt access.
Whatever the truth it is clear that a large portion of users were unable to access select social media sites while the coup was taking place and as history has shown it appears that Turkey will continue to censor social media sites freely.
With Turkey bidding to become a member of the European Union and countries such as the United Kingdom being heavily involved in fast tracking Turkey’s EU membership in a pre-BREXIT era it would seem freedom of speech and internet access should be a huge concern for bureaucrats in EU positions of power.
Only days ago the United Nations issued a resolution damning nations that restrict free internet access. With Turkey being a UN member since 1945 it seems at odds with their current internet censorship policy.
Users in Turkey can circumvent any current blocks or future blocks by using a VPN service on their desktop or mobile devices. A full list of which can be found in our VPN Comparison Guide.