Turkey’s Twitter Wars Heat Up

As the Turkish government continues to squeeze freedom of expression, many Turks have found themselves resorting increasingly to social media in order to learn what's going on in their country. (92 percent of Turkey's online population now uses social media, the highest share in the world). But this refuge is now coming under severe pressure as well. And the trend is particularly noticeable in the case of Twitter. 

 

The government's strategy for cracking down on Twitter relies heavily on removal requests. In the first half of this year alone, Turkish officials asked the network to remove content 186 times, as well as issuing over 60 court orders directing Twitter to take down messages due to "defamation" and the "violations of personal rights" of both private citizens and government officials. Twitter blocked 17 accounts (mostly belonging to users tweeting with pseudonyms) and removed 183 tweets as a result of these requests. Thought critics assail Twitter for knucling under to government demands, it's not quite that simple. Twitter broadly complies with legal decisions in countries where it operates, and the Turkish government has been happy to exploit this to its own advantage. 

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