Last week, disgruntled Twitter users in Turkey found that the service had been banned across the country, and although the ban has since been lifted, freedom activists around the world are continuing to demonstrate that prohibition in the digital age doesn’t work. The ban was announced to irate residents by a spokesperson for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who confirmed that use of the social media network would be prohibited.
The ban came following orders from a Turkish prosecutor who requested that internet sites including Twitter and Google remove images depicting a recent failed hostage situation, labelled as ‘anti-government propaganda’. Twitter was working to reinstate use in Turkey later in the day and it is assumed that the social network agreed to remove the content that was deemed unsuitable.
What’s interesting is that, during the period of prohibition, word of the ban spread like wildfire to all four corners of the globe… including via information sent from Turkey via social media. The hashtag #twitterisblockedinturkey was trending last week withmore than 45,000 Tweets appearing in less than 24 hours, and many of the Tweets came direct from Turkish residents themselves:
Keep calm and love VPN
Social media bans don’t work. Internet users in Turkey are already VPN experts
Dusting off the old VPN from last year. Here we go again
Forever VPN forever freedom
Twitter off = VPN on
Turkish residents were using Twitter to express their anger at the government’s decision to block Twitter use through Tweeting their opinions, clearly showing that the ban had backfired. Many were finding loopholes that allowed them to use a virtual private network (VPN) to connect to international servers, giving them a foreign IP address and, subsequently, access to any website or service not blocked in the IP address region.
De-Ja Vue for Turkey
Interestingly, this isn’t the first time that Turkey has attempted to block Twitter. Just one year ago the government prohibited use of the social media network due to rumours of corruption that were spreading rapidly via Twitter. Once again, instead of seeing a nation forced into silence, we saw millions of users expressing their views online through the use of a VPN. On just a single day, a whopping 1.2 million Tweets were made from Turkey, despite the ban being in place.
Turkey isn’t the only country in the world that has blocked, or attempted to block, Twitter. Mainland China has prohibited the use of Twitter since 2009, and yet an estimated 12 percent of the population – mostly 16 to 64 year olds – admit to having an active account. In January this year, China made changes that affected three major VPN providers, and the country is consistently stepping up their game to crack down on VPN usage to enforce current censorship restrictions. Despite this, China reports some of the highest VPN usage in the world, with 36 percent using a VPN when going online.
At a time when many are striving for freedom of speech, VPNs such as those offered by EasyHide-VPN have never been a more important or beneficial tool.