Facebook, Twitter and Google relent to Turkish government censorship

19 Jan 2015

Social networks Facebook, Twitter and Google+ have bowed to Turkish government pressure to pull certain posts off their pages or risk being blocked in Turkey.

The country’s government, and in particular its president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, have been particularly vocal about their mistrust of sharing information online having last year shut down or slowed down Twitter and YouTube on a number of occasions.

However, compared with those times, it appears that the American companies have finally waved the white flag following the reports that showed they were to block and pull content from one of the country’s left-wing papers after they tweeted a number of reports about a military police investigation into the Turkish National Intelligence Organisation (MIT).

The news had broken last January that the government opposition claimed that the MIT had been sending trucks towards Syria to support the Syrian government and their president, Bashar al-Assad, in the on-going civil war in the country.

The Turkish government has vehemently denied this claiming the trucks were for Turkmen trapped in the midst of Syria’s internal strife.

Twitter responds

According to The New York Times, last Thursday a court in the city of Adana in the south of the country issued a barring order prohibiting discussion on the military police’s investigation and warned of a ban on social networks and newspapers for discussing it which the social networks upheld.

Speaking of Twitter’s removal of posts, the company’s spokesperson Nu Wexler, said, “Out of the almost 60,000 tweets on the account, Twitter withheld access in Turkey to the small number of tweets that discussed the national security issue referenced in the order. We continue to work diligently to protect the rights of our users and preserve access for millions of Twitter users in Turkey.”

The tweets that were blocked as part of the operation related to the country’s left-wing newspaper BirGun which protested the censorship by posting numerous messages about the case on the micro-blogging site which Twitter subsequently deleted.

Turkish online censorship protest image via Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic