There’s no arguing: it has been witnessed.
After Turkey’s Twitter was apparently disabled, the hashtag #TwitterisblockedinTurkey went supernova, though Twitter is still accessible via the site’s SMS service, which allows Turks to text in a tweet.
President Abdullah Gul, a political ally of Erdogan’s, was among those who circumvented the order, which he contested in a series of tweets. “I hope this implementation won’t last long,” he wrote. Many — although not all — users trying to access the network early on Friday instead saw a notice from Turkey’s telecommunications authority, citing four court orders.
From across the world last night, thousands of Twitter users dispatched outraged — and sometimes hilarious — updates and photos touching upon feelings of dismay, humor, resignation.
Erdogan’s showdown with Twitter has been long coming. In mid-2013, thousands of protests ripped across Turkey ostensibly in opposition to a proposed urban development of Istanbul’s Taksim Gezi Park. But many say that discontent was more rooted in the government’s shift away from secularism —
— and its recent crackdown on freedom of press and expression.
As in other countries, social media played a major role in the protests, which included as many as 3.5 million people in a nation of
Erdogan was outraged and called all social media the
His opposition to social media comes as something of a surprise considering Erdogan has fully embraced other new technologies. In January, when Erdogan couldn’t make it to a party meeting to deliver a speech,
of himself to deliver remarks. It represented perhaps the first time any leader of any country had actually teleported.
But over the last few months, as elections approached, social media has really gotten under Erdogan’s skin. This, despite the fact that Erdogan, who doesn’t follow anyone, has amassed 4.17 million Twitter followers and unleashed 3,043 tweets.
“We are determined on the issue, regardless of what the world may say,” Erdogan said. “We won’t allow the people to be devoured by YouTube, Facebook or others. Whatever steps need to be taken we will take them without wavering.”
Then this week arrived. The issue of social media again arose. The Supreme Electoral Board had blocked an intense Erdogan YouTube video ad depicting the desecration of the Turkish flag, presumably by Erdogan’s enemies, and then thousands of Turks, presumably his supporters, coming to the rescue. The board said the ad had misused national symbols. Erdogan threatened to “ban the ban.”
“Then we will ban that,” he said. “We will bring a ban to the ban.”
Thursday, Erdogan had had enough of Twitter. “We will wipe out all of these,” Erdogan proclaimed.
Hours later, according to local media, anyone in Turkey who tried to access Twitter was directed to another website listing three court rulings as reason for the shutdown.
But before that, Erdogan squeezed in one last tweet. At 1 p.m. — ban or no ban — he tweeted to his followers his video of Turks swarming a flag like bees to honeycomb.
For more stories like this, subscribe to Morning Mix.