international affairs

Turkey Offers Reasons for (Failed) Attempt to ‘Eradicate’ Twitter

BERLIN, GERMANY - FEBRUARY 04: Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks to the media following talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the German federal Chancellery on February 4, 2013 in Berlin, Germany. The two leaders discussed issues including bilateral relations, the situation in Syria and the Turkish economy. (Photo by Adam Berry/Getty Images)
Erdoğan. Photo: Adam Berry/Getty Images

Earlier this week, the Turkish government, led by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, blocked the use of Twitter in the country. Erdoğan, who was presumably upset that wire-tapped conversations implicating his administration in a corruption scandal had been posted to the social-media platform, vowed to “eradicate” Twitter, but it didn’t really work: Using VPNs and Twitter’s helpful instructions on how to tweet via text message, many users were able to circumvent the ban, allowing them to write publicly about how embarrassing the move was for Turkey’s leaders, among other things. On Saturday, officials offered up a not-so-compelling explanation for the situation:

A statement from the Turkish government’s Public Diplomacy office said the network was engaged in “systematic character assassinations” for hosting accounts where the leaked the wiretapped recordings have been posted. It said the audio tapes were “illegally acquired” or “fake and fabricated.”

Elvan, the communications minister, said: “Whether it’s Twitter, Yahoo or Google, all social media companies have to obey the laws of the Turkish Republic and they will.”

Members of the international community have condemned Turkey’s actions against Twitter, often using the service itself: Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt called the crackdown “stupid” and “backfiring heavily,” while Hillary Clinton wrote that “The freedom to speak out & to connect is a fundamental right. The people of Turkey deserve that right restored,” along with the hashtag “twitterisblockedinturkey.” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney also said that the Obama administration has “conveyed our serious concern” to Turkey. Meanwhile:

Turkey Gives Reasons for Twitter ‘Eradication’