Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has vowed to "eradicate" what he calls "the worst menace to society" — social media.
Here's what a visit to Twitter's page in Turkey looks like:
At 11:30 p.m. Thursday night, the Turkish government officially blocked the country's 33 million Internet users from Twitter. Just days before elections, it is one of the biggest moves by a government to unabashedly censor its population in recent history.
Erdogan's move comes shortly after a voice recording leaked of him and his son discussing how to hide no less than $1 billion dollars of cash in safe houses. The leader calls the conversation, which apparently took place in December, "completely false" and a "dirty plot."
People attempting to tweet from the country now find an error sign, or what appears to be a DNS redirect, where their personal accounts used to be. The prime minister has also threatened to kill YouTube and Facebook.
Image Credit: Mashable via Twitter
In 2013, the Turkish government caught on quickly to how powerful social media could be. After a controversial urban redevelopment plan was set to start and the subsequent violent crack-down on protesters, anger spread like wildfire through Twitter and Facebook, encouraging more to join in solidarity. The Turkish government subsequently scrambled, successfully, to shut down Twitter and Facebook. In 2012, a cable leaked by Wikileaks that spread through social media meant treason charges for the leader. This year, as a major corruption scandal breaks out and just days before country-wide elections, Erdogan decided to preemptively crush social media.
The top worldwide trending hashtags yesterday were "#TwitterisblockedinTurkey" and "#DictatorErdogan." Friday morning, the top hashtag was "#Turkey."
Shortly before killing the little blue Twitter bird, Erdogan implied that government censorship was a way to save his country. "We are determined we won't let the Turkish people be sacrificed to YouTube and Facebook," according to Mashable.
Image credit: OccupyWallStreet via Twitter
Users have been trying to bypass the block, posting potential ways to get around the government ban to Wikileaks.
"Turkish authorities must stop viewing the media as the enemy and embrace the role of a free press in a democratic society," said Nina Ognianova of the Committee to Protect Journalists Europe and Central Asia in a statement on Thursday.
Image Credit: Abdullah Ayasun via Twitter
Turkey has tried to muzzle it's people, but in the era of the world wide web, such a stark move against the freedom of expression won't go unnoticed.