TIME Turkey

Turkey Tightens Twitter Blackout

APTOPIX Turkey Twitter
Members of the Turkish Youth Union hold cartoons depicting Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan during a protest against a ban on Twitter on March 21, 2014, in Ankara Burhan Ozbilici—AP

The Turkish government has blocked a widely shared method of circumventing its recently imposed ban on the social media network after reports about corruption in Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan were spread by users across the country

With a ban on the social-media service Twitter entering its fourth day, the government of Turkey has hardened its digital blockade, making it increasingly difficult for Internet users to circumvent the government’s censorship.

Twitter has been officially blocked in Turkey ever since Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Thursday that he would “wipe out” the service and other social-media networks, but users initially found circumventing the ban easy.

Although access to the URL twitter.com was blocked, Turks spread a code through word of mouth and graffiti that allowed them to directly access Twitter. Typically your browser converts twitter.com into a specific location online (sort of like how Google Maps translates a home address into GPS coordinates). Instead, Turks shared with each other the exact coordinates for Twitter, allowing them to bypass the blocked URL.

But as of Sunday, Erdogan has constricted the controls, blocking the direct coordinates that allowed people to access Twitter despite the ban, the Washington Post reports. Twitter is still accessible for the tech-savvy via Virtual Private Networks and by using the encryption and circumvention software TOR, though both methods require a slightly more advanced level of IT expertise.

Erdogan’s government has become increasingly intransigent in recent weeks, after recordings purporting to reveal corruption in his administration were widely circulated on social media. The heightened tensions are a symptom of a deeper divide in Turkish society between supporters of Erdogan — a conservative and an Islamist — and secularists who had long controlled Turkish politics before he came to power.

“We’ll eradicate Twitter. I don’t care what the international community says,” Erdogan said. “Everyone will witness the power of the Turkish Republic.”

[The Washington Post]

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