The Turkish government threatened to block access to Twitter today, as Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced that restricting access to the social networking site is a matter of national security.
"We will eradicate Twitter," Erdogan told a rally in Bursa. "I don’t care what the international community says. Everyone will witness the power of the Turkish Republic."
A VICE News fixer on the ground in Istanbul said tonight that Twitter has been blocked when out of a Wi-Fi area, and that he is not able to receive access to the site because "Twitter has been blocked due to the Istanbul Presidential Court for precaution measures."
Twitter is slowly getting blocked in Turkey. The People here are smart and have found ways around the ban.— Tim Pool (@Timcast) March 20, 2014
Turkey has approximately 10 million Twitter users. Two weeks ago, Erdogan had also threatened to shut down Facebook and YouTube.
Protests have continued intermittently in Turkey since the Gezi Park uprising in May of 2013, and Erdogan has responded with an aggressive campaign of repression that has targeted not only protestors, but members of the news media.
According to the latest polls, Turkey's ruling Justice And Development Party (AKP) has been bleeding, presumably as a result of leaks of a number of alleged tapes on social media — though the AKP is expected to dominate in the March 30 municipal vote.
The hashtags #TwitterIcinSokaga (“to the streets for Twitter”), "#TwitterisblockedinTurkey" and "#DictatorErdogan" have been trending topics since the Twitter ban was announced.
Twitter's global public policy team tweeted the below after the ban was announced:
Turkish users: you can send Tweets using SMS. Avea and Vodafone text START to 2444. Turkcell text START to 2555.— Policy (@policy) March 20, 2014
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