Twitter reinstates account of Turkey’s independent news site DuvarEnglish

(Releads and updates in 2nd paragraph with Twitter reinstating the account)

Twitter has reinstated the account of independent news site Duvar English, following a brief suspension for violating the social media giant’s terms of service on Thursday.

“Duvar English’s account has returned back to normal,” Editor-in-Chief Cansu Çamlıbel said, thanking social media users who protested the move, and Twitter’s support team.

Users accused the real-time communication service of censorship when they could not access to the news site’s Twitter account earlier in the day.

“Do not shut down the voice of one of the very few independent news outlets broadcasting in English from inside Turkey,” Çamlıbel said earlier, calling on Twitter executives to “not bend to trolls and propaganda.”

“We demand an explanation and hope that @twitter will correct this mistake immediately. This is a clear violation of the right to information and free expression,” said Media and Law Studies Association, an organisation aiming to protect free speech.  

Social media and smaller websites have become the main platforms for alternative news in Turkey as mainstream news sources have lost their credibility, the Reuters Institute Digital News Report for 2019 said in June.

A number of news sites remain inaccessible in Turkey, which ranks among the countries with the highest number of content removal requests sent to Twitter and Facebook, according to the companies’ transparency reports. 

“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 last year.

Turkey has blocked a total of 245,825 websites and domains between 2014 and 2018, according to a 2018 report of the Istanbul Freedom of Expression Association (İFÖD) prepared by Akdeniz and researcher Ozan Güven. 

Many also blame "AK trolls", the name given to the 6,000-strong social media team of Turkey’s ruling party, for launching government-coordinated online harassment towards dissidents which usually elevates to online lynch mobs.