Jan 25 2018

Twitter helps Turkey to block opposition online – Buzzfeed

The Turkish government has demanded that Twitter block hundreds of users for political reasons, and those censored include critical journalists, writers, and academics, U.S. news outlet Buzzfeed reported.

“In Turkey, the president, the courts, and the national telecommunications authority together appear to have created a state apparatus for mass blocking,” Buzzfeed said, after identifying more than 700 accounts withheld in the country.

Twitter, on requests of government authorities, bans accounts or tweets within a specific country, while the content remains available in the rest of the world.

There has also been a “massive increase” in the accounts blocked in Germany and France, during elections, Buzzfeed said.

The biggest portion of the withheld accounts in Turkey are linked to two opposition groups, Buzzfeed wrote: the Kurdish insurgency and those connected to U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gülen. Both are considered terror organisations by Turkish authorities.

Buzzfeed said they had not identified a single pro-government account that had been withheld in the country.

“Twitter, together with Facebook, have become the long-arm of the Turkish law enforcement machinery," Yaman Akdeniz, a cyber-rights activist and law professor at Istanbul Bilgi University, told BuzzFeed News.

Turkey is a prime example of “how an authoritarian government suppresses domestic criticism by violating international laws and uses global companies for it,” Buzzfeed quoted researcher Efe Kerem Sözeri as saying.

“Social media companies like Twitter should not be aiding governments that exert political pressure on their citizens,” Akdeniz said.