Turkey Bans Twitter Ahead of March Elections

Posted March 21st, 2014 at 12:04 pm (UTC+0)

Person holds a Samsung Galaxy S4 displaying a Twitter error message in front of Turkish national flag in this illustration taken in ZenicaIn an astonishing move aimed at curbing the spread of information ahead of March 30 presidential elections, Turkey’s courts have blocked Twitter.  The move came within hours of comments made by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to supporters during a campaign rally:

“Twitter, mwitter!,” Erdogan told supporters at a rally late on Thursday.  That’s a phrase Reuters compares to the English rhyming slang, “Twitter, schmitter!”

“The international community can say this, can say that. I don’t care at all. Everyone will see how powerful the Republic of Turkey is.”  Recep Tayyip Erdogan, March 20, 2014

Almost instantly, a new hashtag was born: #TwitterIsBannedInTurkey, and the news went viral.

Twitter’s @policy account earlier messaged Turkish users, advising them to tweet by SMS, but according to reports, it isn’t clear whether these can be viewed inside Turkey.

Turkey’s President Abdullah Gul–tweeting as @cbabdullahgul–said Friday that social media bans are not acceptable and expressed hope that the ban wouldn’t last long.

Meanwhile, the opposition Republican People’s Party says it will challenge the ban and file a criminal complaint against Erdogan for violating personal freedoms.

Twitter has been blamed for spreading an incriminating recording featuring Erdogan and his son debating how to hide large amounts of cash.  Erdogan sayss the recording is a fake and has promised to punish those responsible.

Cecily Hilleary
Cecily began her reporting career in the 1990s, covering US Middle East policy for an English-language network in the UAE. She has lived and/or worked in the Middle East, North Africa and Gulf, consulting and producing for several regional radio and television networks and production houses, including MBC, Al-Arabiya, the former Emirates Media Incorporated and Al-Ikhbaria. She brings to VOA a keen understanding of global social, cultural and political issues.

2 responses to “Turkey Bans Twitter Ahead of March Elections”

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  2. Cranksy (USA) says:

    I really value free speech, but I do think social media may cause flash-mob democracies.


About rePRESSEDed

VOA reporter Cecily Hilleary monitors the state of free expression and free speech around the world.



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