Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan used a court order to institute the ban on Twitter yesterday in an attempt to curb the conversation on reported evidence of his involvement in a corruption scandal as key local elections are on the horizon.
“We’ll eradicate Twitter. I don’t care what the international community says,” Erdoğan said at a campaign rally yesterday, according to Hurriyet Daily News, a Turkish English-language news source.
Indeed, the international reaction has not been kind.
“He’s going in the wrong direction,” the EU’s digital commissioner Neelie Kroes told CNBC. “What we have to do is put it in plain language that it’s not acceptable.”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel also criticized the ban. “It doesn’t fit with our idea of freedom of expression to forbid or block any form of communication,” Merkel’s spokeswoman Christiane Wirtz told Turkish news oulet Today’s Zaman.
Even Turkish President Abdullah Gul stands against the prime minister’s actions, and he took to Twitter to express his disapproval, saying that he hoped the ban would not last long.
The prime minister’s press secretary said in a statement that the ban was necessary because Twitter had ignored Turkish court orders to remove certain links that came after complaints filed by Turkish citizens.
Meanwhile, the Turkish lawyers’ association has asked the court to overturn the ban. Turkey’s main opposition party has also said that they are seeking to end the ban.
All Internet service providers in Turkey blocked Twitter on their DNS servers, but Turkey’s savvy Twitter users tweaked their DNS settings for Google’s public DNS were able to regain access to the site. Users simply have to switch their DNS server addresses to Google’s public DNS server: 18.104.22.168 or 22.214.171.124.
Shortly after the ban began yesterday Twitter also tweeted that users in Turkey could use SMS to access the the social media network.
Users have been spreading their knowledge using hashtag #DirenTwitter online. Offline, residents of Turkey have spray-painted graffitti on balconies and government portraits with the public DNS addresses to spread the word.
So far, it seems like the government’s efforts have backfired: Turkey’s twitter activity is up 138%, according to a We Are Social report.
This is not the first time the prime minister has sought to nuzzle social media. After recordings linking the prime minister to corruption surfaced on many social media outlets, the prime minister previously sought to pass legislation that would ban Facebook and YouTube.
However, the government currently has no plans of banning other social media sites, a Turkish official told Reuters.