updated 06:39 am EDT, Fri March 21, 2014
Court orders to block Twitter over corruption posts, Facebook could follow
Microblogging service Twitter has been blocked in Turkey, following a court order triggered by the country's Prime Minister. Visitors to the home page are greeted by a message from the Turkish telecommunications regulator, and is all but unusable in the country, as Turkey's leadership attempts to prevent allegations of corruption from spreading between its users and the country's citizens.
The site went dark in the country hours after Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened to "wipe out" the service, reports the AFP. The state-run Anatolia news agency reports that Twitter has been "technically blocked" as it had ignored court orders to remove "illegal" links. A second report by Anatolia claims the Twitter block was the only way to "address the unjust treatment of our citizens." While the main website is no longer functional in the country, users are still able to post messages to the service. The Twitter Policy account notes users can still send tweets via text messages, if they cannot access the site directly or via apps.
Prime Minister of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan
The microblogging service has been used to spread audio recordings allegedly placating Erdogan in a corruption scandal, apparently influencing business deals, court cases, and media coverage, as well as hiding money. One prominent Twitter account devoted to leaking claims to have amassed a large collection of documents and wiretaps for the investigation. Erdogan claims the recordings are "vile" and fake, manufactured by his opposition.
Since the spread of the audio files and commentary between citizens over the matter is widespread, Erdogan has threatened to ban both YouTube and Facebook until after local elections on March 30th. "This has nothing to do with freedoms," claimed Erdogan, continuing "Freedom does not mean the right to intrude on someone's privacy to pass the state's secrets to the international arena."
This is not the only time the country's leadership has come out against websites. Between 2008 and 2010, access to YouTube was blocked in Turkey, over videos hosted on the service that could be considered an insult to Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the country's founder.