Turkey Places Ban on Social Media Sites

By on April 6, 2015



The federal government of Turkey on Monday blocked all public access to social networking sites, including Twitter and YouTube, over photos released showing a militant pointing a gun at a prosecutor who died last week in a failed hostage rescue operation.


President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s spokesperson said a Turkish prosecutor had ordered Internet providers to block the sites. The order stemmed from postings of photos that showed militant “Marxists” pointing a gun at the prosecutor, Mehmet Selim Kiraz, who died in a shootout between police and the “Marxists” who were holding him hostage.


Government officials were outraged that Turkish media would actually post the images, which they have called anti-government propaganda. Kiraz, was hit in the head by gunfire during the standoff and died in a hospital soon after.


The state-funded Anadolu Agency said access was blocked because Twitter and YouTube didn’t remove the graphic images of the prosecutor despite an official notification to do so. The agency claims the Internet Providers notified Twitter and YouTube, but video, photographs and audio files were still being posted on these sites. The Turkish telecommunications authority wouldn’t immediately comment.


Turkey decided to lift their temporary ban on Twitter in the late afternoon after the company agreed to remove all images of the prosecutor and telecoms authorities verified that it had done so.


The journalists group, Turkish Press Council, said that while it understood the authorities concerns over the publication of the prosecutors’ photographs, it said banning social media websites was in conflict with democracy.

“It is meaningless to totally shut down social platforms — which contain billions of useful information — to the use of the Turkish people because of some unsuitable content,” the group said.


Some social media users were sharing information on how to get around the ban on the Internet.


Last year, the Turkish government blocked access to YouTube and Twitter after audio recordings of a secret security meeting or tapes suggesting corruption by government officials were leaked online. Turkey’s highest court, however, overturned the bans, deeming them to be unconstitutional.


Previous moves by Turkish authorities to block the social media networks have provoked widespread criticism by Western governments and human rights groups/

Many tech-savvy users, including former President Abdullah Gul, had found ways to circumvent the bans both on Twitter and YouTube while they instituted.