Twitter and tightly held regimes do not mesh. Iran, China, South Korea, India and Egypt have all at one point banned or blocked aspects of the social media platform.
Turkey is the latest country to join that list. Starting in December incriminating audio files of the prime minister's son, business executives and the prime minister himself, were leaked and posted to YouTube. According to the New York Times, the audio shows attempts by Prime Minister Erdoğan to control the media, including phoning media executives asking for critics to be fired. The Times also said that one of the bits of audio, from the morning of Dec. 17, is supposedly the prime minister asking his son to get rid of large sums of cash. That morning the homes of three former ministers' sons were raided.
Of course the government is claiming the recordings are fake. According to the Verge, they are being blamed on a political rival Fethullah Gulen. Since the leak the video has leapt around nontraditional media outlets like Twitter.
Yesterday, March 20 -- 10 days before local elections -- the government banned Twitter. At an election rally Erdoğan said,“We now have a court order. We’ll eradicate Twitter. I don’t care what the international community says. Everyone will witness the power of the Turkish Republic." The court order to shut down Twitter was made possible by new laws passed in February that restrict the Internet. The official reason cited for the order were privacy violations, according to Mashable.
Shutting down Twitter has been easier said than done. According to the verified Twitter account Policy, "The voice of Twitter's global public policy team," users can still send tweets via SMS (or text).
There are also other ways to get around the ban. The Verge explains that the ban was a simple DNS block:
"Everyone browsing the web uses DNS. It's a system that routes the domain name you type into your browser to the IP address of that site. Google provides a free DNS service that's open to all, and with knowledge of this some Turkish citizens have begun to spread the word that using Google DNS will avoid the Twitter ban."
Turkish citizens are using all means to show people how to circumvent the ban from Facebook to graffiti showing the Google DNS "126.96.36.199."
Private citizens are not the only ones speaking out about the court ordered blocking of Twitter -- or circumventing the ban. President Abdullah Gül has voiced his outrage using Twitter. According to Mashable he tweeted: “Shutting down social media platforms cannot be approved." Gül also wrote, "it is not technically possible to fully block access to globally active platforms like Twitter, anyway.” Both the United States and European Union have condemned the shutdown of Twitter.