Twitter is said to be removing accounts to reverse Turkish ban [updated]

Twitter_HOTwitter who is banned in Turkey yesterday on the grounds that it ignores to remove alleged ‘illegal’ accounts in compliance with the sentences of Turkish courts, is said holding talks now with Turkish government authorities to lift the blocking. Anatolian News Agency reported today that the micro-blogging site has already started removing gradually the said accounts while the talks between the authorities and Twitter’s lawyers continue.

The news agency said that one of the accounts that was subject to ‘precautionary blocking decision’ of Samsun 2nd Court of Peace has already been removed and some other are expected to follow soon.

Yet there is no official announcement from neither side about the reversal of the overall ban, and the site is still blocked nationwide.

Turkish authorities’ decision to block Twitter came as a shock as many people had not expected that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s threats to ‘eradicate’ Twitter to come into effect. However, the site was blocked in just a few hours following the remarks he used during an election rally in Bursa. The ban initially decreased the traffic in Twitter but caused it to explode by more than 100% afterwards.

#TwitterisblockedinTurkey became Trending Topic for the entire day and number of all related tweets exceeded 1.2 million in just half a day, 75% of which coming from Turkey.

The accounts Turkish authorities want to silence are those where corruption allegations about AKP govermnent and PM Erdoğan are released. Sound recordings of the PM, some ministers, government officials and some businessmen discussing exchange of ‘bribe’ money and harsh actions against the opponents are also distributed via several other channels like YouTube, Soundcloud and Facebook, which the PM and government also criticize harshly.

To stop the workarounds that people used to avoid the censorship, like DNS changes and VPNs, government blocked Google’s DNS services earlier today. Other free DNS routes and VPNs are also subject to blocking should the talks between Twitter and AKP government fails to reach a consensus, and even add other global websites to the list of the banned, as the governments seems extremely determined to control the internet traffic in its own purposes and silence any opposition.

UPDATE: Turkish government authorities have started to implement IP-based bans on Twitter to stop users connect to the site via open DNS routes. So the only remaining way is now to connect via VPN services. This latest crackdown may be interpreted as the talks between sides do not go well.

UPDATE 2: (7:50PM-GMT) Turkish Prime Minister’s office released a statement to foreign press in English. It says the ban on Twitter had come in response to the company’s “defiance” in failing to comply with hundreds of court rulings since last January. It added ”Twitter has been used as a means to carry out systematic character assassinations by circulating illegally acquired recordings, fake and fabricated records of wiretapping… It is difficult to comprehend Twitter’s indifference and its biased and prejudiced stance. We believe that this attitude is damaging to the brand image of the company in question and creates an unfair and inaccurate impression of our country”.

Image: Twin Design/Shutterstock

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