The Times: Erdoğan bans Twitter


The Times newspaper published a report by its correspondent in Istanbul, Hana Lucinda, about the ongoing preparations in Türkiye for the second round of the presidential elections, between President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his rival, opposition representative Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, which will take place on Sunday.

The report says that the Turkish people have noticed strange things during the past few days on Twitter, as they can no longer follow the pages of some alcoholic products companies, and a message appeared to them saying, “This account cannot be followed from within Türkiye”.

That’s one of many among the restrictions imposed by the Turkish government to limit citizens’ exposure to pages of sexual websites, Kurdish news websites, and satirical forums on the Internet, according to which thousands of websites were blocked.

The Turkish government sometimes cuts off the Internet completely, sometimes in conjunction with terrorist attacks or major demonstrations, as indicated by the Surfshark Company that monitors the quality of the Internet, adding that it has recorded 12 times during which Türkiye has cut off the Internet completely, since 2015.

The most recent of which was the temporary blocking of the Twitter platform that lasted for several hours, in the wake of the double earthquake that struck the country, 3 months ago.

The report continues that Twitter platform has recently been accused of submitting to the demands of the Turkish government, regarding the ban on publishing some topics, indicating that on the 12th of this month, prior to the first round of the elections, Twitter announced, in both English and Turkish, that it had blocked some content, in response to legal requirements, and in order to ensure that the platform continues to operate in Türkiye.

The report indicates that Twitter didn’t explain what legal procedures it was subjected to, nor the identity of the content that it banned, but Elon Musk, owner and CEO of the platform, responded to these criticisms in his well-known harsh manner, revealing that the Turkish government issued a warning to the platform, saying that the option is either a complete ban, or a commitment to limit some tweets, so which option do you prefer?

These measures followed a law issued in 2020, which gives the government the right to demand that major social media platforms open offices in Türkiye, so that they are subject to the laws of the state, and they are prosecuted before Turkish courts, according to the media work and publishing law, and thus the Twitter platform was able to open its office in Istanbul in 2021, because refusing to obey the law simply means preventing the platform from operating in the country altogether.

The report quotes Taylam Yildiz, a former manager in Silicon Valley and a supporter of the Turkish opposition, as saying that Erdoğan uses the ban method to control the media narrative that could harm his fortunes ahead of the elections, such as files related to economic performance and immigration, adding that the ban is in itself, and it also applies to supporters of Erdoğan.

The report concludes, quoting Yildiz, saying, “Some of Erdoğan’s supporters have major differences with the values ​​of democracy and the culture of pluralism, and blocking these websites supports his image among them as a defender of conservative traditions”.

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