Turkish Prime Minister Bans Twitter to Silence Political Unrest

In a controversial move, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan banned all Twitter use. “Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan rails against Twitter as part of a plot to blacken him and portray his Turkey as corrupt,” Reuters reported Tuesday. Protesters are not standing for it. In fact, Twitter analytic teams report a spike in Turkish tweets, “with Somera reporting a 33% increase on Friday and Hootsuite saying usage tripled in 24 hours,” Fox News adds.

On Friday, Erdogan delivered an impassioned speech about the social-sharing site. “We’ll eradicate Twitter. I don’t care what the international community says. Everyone will witness the power of the Turkish state.”

Erdogan’s attack on Twitter was likely due to leaked information that incriminated many of his high-ranking supporters — and even led to some arrests. Protesters’ persistence and determination to work around the ban makes the prime minister look foolish.

“More than 2.5 million tweets –- over 17,000 a minute –- followed from Turkey in the first 24 hours after the ban, according to several media reports, signaling the revolutionaries’ prowess in getting the word out despite authoritarian threats,” Fox reveals.

Users continue circulating audio tapes that expose shady dealings from the Turkish government. Other tech-savvy protesters are taking a more satirical approach. Political cartoons featuring the prime minister shooting a blue bird (Twitter’s logo) are among the most shared images. “Even allies have made rare forays into insubordination: Ankara mayor Melih Gokcek tweeted a smiley face and acknowledged using a technological ruse after Erdogan ordered Twitter to be blocked,” Reuters continues.

“Social media and the internet are so ingrained in our society. You can’t turn off just part of it,” explains Jeremy Simpson, Director of Search Marketing at Suburban Marketing. “Iran tried this a few years ago, attempting to shut down the internet entirely, only to realize that you can’t function as a state without it.”

Despite Erdogan’s efforts to quell unrest and discussions of scandal, Turkish citizens are increasingly suspicious of the prime minister and officials that are in-line with him. Seventy percent said they believe at least some of “the corruption allegations about government ministers and their relatives are true,” according to a January poll. Twitter and many others have filed legal complaints in response to the ban. Twitter is conservatively using a “Country Withheld Content” to protect users whose lives may be in danger.

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