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Somewhere within the Turkish Government surely there must be someone who is able to tell PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan, that his latest tactic of blocking social networking sites is incredibly stupid. Unfortunately it would seem not, as that is exactly what has happened within the last twelve hours.
Here’s an example of what happens if you now try to visit the social networking site Twitter using a Turkcell mobile phone. The same thing happens if you try and access from any other device, a fact which I have confirmed with several friends who live on the Turkish coast and in Istanbul.
It has been made legally possible by a dodgy piece of legislation passed last month by the Government which allows websites to be blocked on a variety of spurious reasons and without the need of a court order which was previously required.
The main reason (as always) why the Turkish leader hates social networking sites so much is because they are used to distribute the numerous allegations of corruption within his government.
Twitter was used to distribute the phone call recordings which allegedly take place between Erdogan and his family discussing where to hide various large sums of money from the corruption investigations. The PM denies this allegations and insists these recordings have been faked, but they are making him very mad indeed. There are apparently some more recordings to come, which happily this block will have virtually no effect on whatsoever.
It is of course utterly pointless to block access to these sites for a variety of reasons – which many corrupt leaders have found out to their costs. Here’s some of the more obvious ones –
- Thousands of alternatives available to distribute information
- Looks like an admission of guilt
- Lots of ways to bypass the blocks quickly and easily (Identity Cloaker for one)
- International condemnation – not a way to run a democratic republic!
It will be interesting to watch over the next few weeks, if Erdogan keeps on this track and blocks access to even more social sharing sites. In reality it will probably have little effect other than to galvanise the opposition and attract even more international criticism. He may however take notice that his technical efforts have been of limited effect domestically, the number of tweets sent within the country has not even fallen! Blocking access to these sites just makes you look like you have something to hide, expect to see increased protests and opposition if he chooses this route. Turkey are of course unfortunately already noted for their level of censorship, these blocks only bring the eyes of the world down on his undemocratic censorship. In any event, the only really effective method to restricting access to sites like Twitter is to block the entire internet, a bit like North Korea or move up to the sort of solution China has employed to block access, needless to say this would not be a popular move!