Turkey's Twitter ban appears to backfire

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 22 March, 2014, 10:43am
UPDATED : Saturday, 22 March, 2014, 10:43am

The global Internet community rallied to help Twitter users in Turkey circumvent a block on the popular messaging service on Friday, as some experts said Ankara’s efforts were backfiring.

After Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened to “wipe out” Twitter and the site went dark there Thursday, there was no lack of help from activists, Internet companies and others.

“Trying to ban Twitter has backfired,” said Philip Howard, who heads the Digital Activism Research Project at the University of Washington.

“It’s drawn the world’s attention to the country’s increasingly tough censorship and surveillance strategy.”

Howard said the Turkish move quickly became a “trending topic” on Twitter - which prompted fresh criticism of the government.

“News of the ban seems to have driven more Turks to try Twitter out for the first time, breaking national records for Twitter use. Tip sheets for getting around the ban spread like wildfire,” he said.

Shortly after Twitter connections were broken, the US-based social media giant posted a message reminding users they could get onto the platform through SMS text messaging.

Activists pointed to ways to tweak a computer’s Internet settings to access Twitter.

And some firms offered access to their VPN - a virtual private network which masks the user’s information to circumvent the ban.

Around the world,  ”Turkey“ and  “TurkeyBlockedTwitter” were big topics on the social platform.