Skip to main content

Turkish PM vows to 'eradicate' Twitter, users see service disruptions

By Ivan Watson and Gul Tuysuz, CNN
March 21, 2014 -- Updated 0029 GMT (0829 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has threatened to shut down social media sites
  • He says Twitter's management has ignored court orders
  • Outrage erupts online when service disruptions hit
  • Twitter users quickly advertise workaround procedures

(CNN) -- Hours after Turkey's prime minister vowed to "eradicate" Twitter, Turkish Internet users began to experience widespread disruptions Thursday while trying to access the popular social networking website.

Outrage and fury erupted online. Within an hour the hashtags "#TwitterisblockedinTurkey," "#DictatorErdogan" and "TurkeyBlockedTwitter" surged to the service's top worldwide trends.

Meanwhile, Twitter swiftly offered subscribers a work-around via its verified policy account by advertising an alternative way to send out tweets using cell-phone instant messaging.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan first vowed to shut Twitter down at a campaign rally on Thursday in the city of Bursa.

"Now there is a court order. Twitter, mwitter, we will eradicate it all," Erdogan said, using a Turkish expression that mocked the name of the social networking site.

"The international community will say this and that, and it doesn't concern me one bit," Erdogan added, apparently anticipating the subsequent uproar.

"They will see the power of the Turkish Republic. This has nothing to do with freedom-shmeedom. Freedom is not invading someone's privacy."

Several hours later, the prime ministry released a statement accusing Twitter's management of ignoring court orders calling for the removal of web links from the website.

"Twitter officials remained indifferent to these demands," the prime ministry announced, according to the semiofficial Anadolu news agency.

"Access to Twitter may be blocked as a last resort to avert the unjust treatment of our citizens in case of a continuation of this ignorance of the court rulings."

While many Twitter users reported blockages to the website, others quickly advertised workaround procedures.

The Twitter crackdown follows earlier threats by Erdogan to shut down popular social networking sites Facebook and YouTube.

The latest move against Twitter comes 10 days before Turks are expected to go to the polls in municipal elections that will be held nationwide.

The government has also been working to block embarrassing leaks emerging on social media linked to a corruption investigation that embroiled four of Erdogan's former cabinet ministers. Erdogan claims the investigation is a "coup plot."

He has sought to crush the probe by firing thousands of police officers and prosecutors.

Nonetheless, embarrassing wiretaps of telephone conversations between Erdogan, his family members and top members of Turkey's ruling elite have been leaked on a daily basis on an assortment of popular Internet sites.

CNN has been unable to confirm the authenticity of the recordings, some of which have been described as "immorally edited material" by Erdogan.

But the prime minister confirmed some of the conversations, including a call in which he ordered the head of a TV news channel to censor the live broadcast of an opposition lawmaker's speech.

On Wednesday, lawmakers from Erdogan's ruling Justice and Development Party succeeded in blocking an attempt by opposition leaders to read out portions of the corruption investigation indictment in an extraordinary session of parliament.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
October 24, 2014 -- Updated 0242 GMT (1042 HKT)
Successful launch of lunar orbiter, seen as a precursor for a planned mission to the surface of the moon, marks significant advance for the country's space program.
October 23, 2014 -- Updated 1915 GMT (0315 HKT)
Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, shot while standing guard at Ottawa's National War Memorial, was known for his easygoing manner and smile.
October 22, 2014 -- Updated 2006 GMT (0406 HKT)
Non-stop chatter about actress' appearance is nasty, cruel, hurtful, invasive and sexist.
October 23, 2014 -- Updated 2208 GMT (0608 HKT)
CEO's 30-min Putonghua chat is the perfect charm offensive for Facebook's last untapped market.
October 24, 2014 -- Updated 0345 GMT (1145 HKT)
Chinese leaders want less odd architecture built in the country.
October 22, 2014 -- Updated 2058 GMT (0458 HKT)
Air New Zealand's new 'Hobbit' safety video stars Peter Jackson, Elijah Wood, elves and orcs.
October 23, 2014 -- Updated 1414 GMT (2214 HKT)
A 15-year-old pregnant girl is rescued from slavery, only to be charged with having sex outside of marriage, shocked rights activists say -- a charge potentially punishable by death.
October 22, 2014 -- Updated 0333 GMT (1133 HKT)
After sushi and ramen, beef is on the list of must-eats for many visitors to Japan.
October 20, 2014 -- Updated 1607 GMT (0007 HKT)
Airports judged on comfort, conveniences, cleanliness and customer service.
October 22, 2014 -- Updated 1748 GMT (0148 HKT)
Scientists use CT scans to recreate a life-size image of the ancient king.
October 22, 2014 -- Updated 0959 GMT (1759 HKT)
Despite billions spent on eradicating poppy production, Afghan farmers are growing bumper crops, a U.S. government report says.
October 23, 2014 -- Updated 1153 GMT (1953 HKT)
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT