Turkey to ban Twitter and Facebook

04.09.2012 - 11:07

Social media could "provoke great masses”, said Binali Yıldırım, Turkey's Transportation, Maritime and Communication Minister, when he announced that the country is planning to block access to Facebook and Twitter in order to prevent a “threat to public safety.”

In May, the Turkish government announced the new measure would take place in August and thousands of Turks concentrated in some 40 cities and towns around the country. Turkey’s Internet regulator wanted to introduce a selection of filters that users would choose from before browsing the Internet. Also, some words could be banned, such as “blond” and “sister-in-law”.

According to the journalist Olcay Aydilek of the Turkish newspaper Habertürk, Yıldırım affirmed that social media is a “threat” and “measures must be taken.”  The block would be momentary or last only a few hours, a report said.

Ministry's reports allegedly showed that the social networks acted as a "catalyst" that generated ethnic and religious confrontations at times of crisis, especially after attacks by the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). For instance, in July two Turkish soldiers were killed and ten others were wounded in a clash with terrorists in south-eastern province of Hakkari.

Besides, Yıldırım appeared in the television saying that these kind of social sites were “very effective” after a deadly bomb attack in Gaziantep, near the police station, on 20 August, the second day of the Ramadan. People published on social sites  "false reports of a second bombing, and claims that the Peace and Democracy Party offices in the city were torched. These are very troubling," he said.

Likewise, the minister stated that these platforms facilitated the revolutions in Tunisia, Libya and Egypt, calling them “revolutions of communication.” He said that social media may have caused “good things to happen there but it could also be used to provoke great masses and misguide them.”

In an attempt to not be called as “censorship”, Yıldırım contacted Turkey's Information Technology and Communication Board (BTK) to create a balanced way to interfere with Turkish Internet users' access to Facebook and Twitter.

Turkey has 31 million Facebook users and 9 million Twitter users; 18,4 million of them use internet 34 hours per month.

The French organisation Reporters Without Borders released in March its list of the 12 “Enemies of the Internet”. China, Cuba, North Korea and Syria are at the top of the list, but other countries are under surveillance, such as Turkey, Egypt and Tunisia. However, with this new measure, Turkey may climb up soon a big number of positions.