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.
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?