Once again, social media holds strong its voice of protest as a government tries to block its use. This attempt was fueled by Turkey Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan growing frustration with how social media networks have been used to fan a scandal that now presents perhaps the biggest challenge to his authority since he came to power 11 years ago.
Within hours of the Turkish government’s attempt to block the social media site, President Abdullah Gul was one of thousands of Turks who protested the ban — using Twitter.
“Shutting down social media platforms cannot be approved,” Mr. Gul posted on Twitter on Friday, adding that “it is not technically possible to fully block access to globally active platforms like Twitter, anyway.”
Turkey is a predominantly Muslim country of 79 million people and has long sought to portray itself as a model of democracy in a restive region, earning the respect and envy of world leaders looking for a Muslim country with European roots to help navigate regional crises, such as the one between Turkey and Israel over a Turkish ship fired upon by Israel that was carrying food and health supplies to Palestine. President Obama stood next to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu while the Israeli leader called the Turkish prime minister to mend the break.
Now, critics both inside and outside the country denounced the government’s ban as a “digital coup” more befitting China or North Korea. They, too, of course, did so over Twitter.
Even so, Twitter and tech-savvy users made quick haste of getting around the ban. A Turkish professor of international relations at Kadir Has University in Istanbul said, “It’s actually highly irrational when you consider it is impossible to stop social media networks. My son breached the ban in 15 seconds.”
He wasn’t alone. At the Buster Internet cafe in Istanbul, a student, Engin Alturk, said the prohibition had only encouraged people to post more messages. “We lived without YouTube for a year; we know all the tricks to get around this,” he added. “Erdogan must think us stupid.”
Social media is in many ways the government toothpaste that is now out of the tube. There’s no going back or trying to block it by governments, either for quote/unquote good or bad governments, as Edward Snowden’s efforts to publish the secret communications of the U.S. Government amply show.
It’s a new era, spawned in many ways by social media.
Here’s the full story on Turkey and Twitter: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/22/world/europe/turks-seek-to-challenge-twitter-ban.html