Why The Access To Popular Facebook Games is Blocked in Turkey?

zynga

On October 3, 2009, Zynga.com, owner company of the most popular Facebook games such as Farmville, Mafia Wars, Yoville, Zynga (Texas Hold’em) Poker, Blackjack …), was blocked in Turkey.

To date, we have not posted any entries until we have the facts and details concerning this incident. Meanwhile, we have taken a screenshot of the screen explaining on what grounds the games are banned in Turkey, as you can see below. However, the ban has been lifted after a while, and it is again possible to access to Zynga games in Turkey.

Now, let’s discuss the details concerning why Zynga games were banned in Turkey. Users trying to reach these games from Turkey got this message during the day: After technical analysis and legal evaluation based on the catalog crimes of the Law no 5651, Administrative measure has been taken for this website (zynga.com) according to decision no 421.02.02.2009-272446 dated 02/10/2009 of “Department of Telecommunications Communication Presidency” (TIB)

This statement was unfortunately no surprise for Turkish internet users, as this law has already blocked more than 3000 websites. Official statistics, as revealed by TIB (Telecommunications Communication Presidency), show that as of May 11, 2009, 2601 websites have been blocked in Turkey under the provisions of Law No. 5651. While 475 (18%) of the 2601 websites are blocked by court orders, the majority of them, 2126 websites (82%), are blocked via administrative blocking orders issued by TIB.

Zynga blocked in Turkey

Since Law No. 5651, entitled Regulation of Publications on the Internet and Suppression of Crimes Committed by means of Such Publication came into force in November 2007, access to a considerable number of foreign websites including popular websites such as YouTube, Geocities, DailyMotion, WordPress, Google Groups, and Google Sites have been blocked from Turkey under the provisions of this law by court orders and administrative blocking orders issued by TIB.

In February 2008, Head of Telecommunications Communication Presidency (TIB) Fethi Simsek stated that, gambling and betting games are included in a group that is called “Catalog Crimes”, leading to suicide, sexual abuse of children, facilitating drug use, supplying hazardous substance for health, obscenity, prostitution, providing opportunities and place for gambling and crimes committed against Ataturk. We understand from this law that, the reason of the blocking seems to have a direct linkage to the gambling games of the company.

So, why have the blocking/unblocking occurred on the same day? Was it a mistake or was it due to the attention of the media? We do not know the exact reason yet, however we will be investigating and keeping you updated about the issue.

YouTube and other similar websites in Turkey are banned within the scope of the above-mentioned law. MySpace and Last.fm are the recent ones that added to the banned website list in Turkey, which becomes more worrying day by day.

As we have mentioned before, we believe the “web site bans” have a big negative effect on Turkish economy while Turkey has the 7th largest and most engaged online audience in Europe with its 27 million Internet users. As comScore stated in the report published in May 2009, internet users in Turkey spend more time online and consume more pages than users in other European countries. We believe that you have something to say on this matter and your comments count. Do you think there is any point in recent blocking of MySpace, Last.Fm and Zynga in Turkey? We invite you to share your opinion with us.

Update: According to Milliyet News ( One of the biggest newspapers in Turkey) TIB chairman Fethi Simsek stated that, “Department of Internet Presidency” has a duty to block access to gambling sites. These are the sites that poker and similar games are played. The blocking of the site has occured because it was suspected that the games were a form of gambling which means they are played in exchange of money. But after the explanations and telephone traffic in the evening the access has been regranted however investigations with a suspicion of gambling will go on. Blocking Facebook is out of question.”

As a result, we were right about our opinion that the cause of the blocking roots from the gambling games of Zynga. From this statement, we also understand  that the pressure of social media and then the traditional media (they get the news from social media on this matter) have a great effect on the telephone traffic which resulted to unblocking of this site. The people who created this effect are the ones who tweeted and shared these posts on Facebook, Friendfeed and other social networks. So I have a question. Why not adopt the same approach for other blocked sites in Turkey?

Yorumlar (8)

  1. Taylan |

    Web site acess blocking in Turkey will increase day by day because act no:5651 considers a local web page crime is a crime for the whole web site. In Turkey there is a saying:”if you want to broil a flea, do not broil the puff” 🙂

    Cevapla
  2. Necmettin Begiter |

    I suspect, as someone jokingly noted on Facebook recently, these website blockings have something to do with the internet traffic into Turkey. You block MySpace, some certain Facebook games, and Youtube; you have successfully decreased Turkey’s outgoing and thus incoming traffic by 80 percent. And you also managed to force at least a considerable amount of your users to websites whose servers are located in Turkey.
    So, although this behaviour has some negative effect on Turkish economy as you noted, it also stimulates local website owners.
    That the authorities decided to start blocking (and I must add, I considering blocking ~6000 websites, some of which are widely known and used, is something like a mass murder) without preparing the infrastructure is another thing to note.

    Cevapla
  3. Peter Murray |

    Blocking websites is damaging for the Turkish economy, especially tourism and exporting. How much potential business is being lost because Turks cannot post information on the banned sites?

    Join the cause to Stop Internet Censorship in Turkey on Facebook at http://apps.facebook.com/cause.....2013516199.

    Cevapla
  4. Alperen |

    I don’t think this block is nearly as serious as blocking YouTube almost 2 years ago.

    Reason for blocking YouTube: Only ONE video showing disrespect to Ataturk, the founder of Turkey. I mean sure, you can lbock that single video, but why block the whole damn site?

    Cevapla
  5. Plumber Sheffield |

    In my opinion, blocking YouTube and MySpace is ridiculous. I mean, MySpace is meant to be used as a social networking site to find old friends who you’ve lost contact with and to keep contact with the ones you’ve got. It’s what society is about nowadays. And as for banning YouTube, I agree with the comment above. There is no need to ban the whole site just the offending video.

    Cevapla
  6. picus |

    and why on earth does this banishment appears in my browser on some pages eventho im from czech republic?(not even the same continent!!!!)

    Cevapla
  7. tom |

    Picus….most of turkey is situated in Europe as well. Doesn’t hurt to open a book once in a while…..Czech’s…

    Cevapla

Leave a Reply