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Twitter is blocked in Turkey
236 points by aacanakin on Mar 20, 2014 | hide | past | web | favorite | 98 comments



Many sites including Youtube did get blocked in the past, but safe to say this one is different. It is an explicit attempt to silence non-traditional media by the government. They have been working on controlling the traditional media (TV, newspapers, etc.) for a long time.

Recently, social media has been making a bigger impact, hence the explicit play. Current administration sees itself in an existential struggle and willing to do anything to stay in power. The model that they aspire seems to have switched from the west to Russia/China.

Whether they will be able to succeed in silencing social media will have implications beyond Turkey.


I think you are absolutely right.


I was there on business in 2010 and I said "man, this is a country on the move! We need to set up an office here." English is taught from early grades, there is good infrastructure in the western part of the country, a young, educated population with a relatively small domestic economy - great place to outsource and a bridge between europe and asia. Things have fallen apart so quickly since then - wouldn't touch it now. Hope things get back on track, as there is so much potential.


It still is, so long as this is a momentary blip. Corruption happens everywhere. By and large, commerce hasn't been affected.

What I wouldn't do is touch anything with media around there.

Note: I lived there for 8 months in 2012, and am partnered to a Turk.


it was an illusion. yes i am from istanbul.


I am from Istanbul too and I agree on this. Only 3-4 of the larger cities look like they're more modern.


Istanbul is modern? Sorry but Istanbul is a shithole when compared to some of the other Turkish western coast cities. What makes it interesting in the global scale is the level of its diversity.

An ex Istanbul resident.


I did say it was "more modern". I lived there for 22 years as a minority and have been treated like an animal in the zoo, and don't think I'll ever live in Turkey again.


Internet is falling apart. I think that appreciation for free speech, press and freedom of expression is lower today than it was for a long time of recent history. "They" just push and push on it and we're helpless. Not even constrained by paying it lip service.

Do we still have non-violent ways to counter this and make our voice heard? Because otherwise violent ways become aspired.


I'm getting depressed by these kind of news. My votes do not seem to change anything and I feel hopeless. I can't find anything meaningful to say and I just want to ignore the whole situation but keeping silent just feels wrong.


Don't despair completely.

Not Internet related, but there are some large students going on in Taiwan right now [0] based on concerns on how a new trade agreement with China was passed. The bill was passed in a legal way, but many of the discussions around it were behind closed doors and the Taiwanese people feel that the government is no longer "representing the people." The response against has been pretty described as "unprecedented", people who are normally not interested in politics are getting involved to see how they can help.

"We do not want to clash with the police...we just have to let the government know that never try to fool the people."[1]

I find their vigilance inspiring. This level of spontaneous organization seems difficult to carry out in the US though. Taiwan is considerably smaller than the US, and I think that makes a large difference unfortunately.

[0]: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-03-19/taiwan-students-occ...

[1]: http://www.cnn.com/2014/03/19/world/asia/taiwan-student-prot...

EDIT (to respond to guard-of-terra): > "Turns out they just sit in their office and pretend nothing happens."

Definitely a valid point. We shall see how long this sustains for.To clarify, when I say "getting involved" I mean many people are taking to the streets, not just armchair activism.


Don't want to discourage you but we had this "unprecedented, people who are normally not interested in politics are getting involved" thing in Moscow a few years ago and it all died out. Turns out they just sit in their office and pretend nothing happens. And it works unless you actively overthrow them.

Of course they say Russians are a nation of slaves but there you go.


The same happened in Turkey last summer too. You might have heard, "the Gezi protests". Looking back, the whole thing just made everyone a bit more extreme on their views. Some government officials just ignored the situation while the prime minister went on a campaign to stop the so called "looters" (yes he did call the protesters that) from "disrespecting the public opinion". Now? It's a flame war between many groups, with some scandals here and there for what it seems to be entertainment only. Everyone, and I mean everyone -including me- seems to ignore everything opposed to what they believe. I try to be objective, but I can't. People believe in "stuff". I'm still getting amazed by how interested we are in believing in something and the lengths we can go just to keep our beliefs' integrity.


"Looking back, the whole thing just made everyone a bit more extreme on their views."

Yeah, that's exactly what we had in Russia. The protests were about rigged elections. They also happened to be peaceful. Nevertheless, you can now find a lot of people who call protester names as if that was something provably bad. You can also find a lot of people who outright support everything the state do - thing you could not find before. A lot of people switched from "not caring" to "actively fearing change and swearing on any critique of status quo".


This is funny thing you mentioned because my votes never did anything ever. Victory always goes to that other default side. So much for mock democracy.


Nonviolent ways are the only legitimate means to an end, other ways lose all credibility and support.

That doesn't stop one from inventing new acts of defiance that break through the monotony with awe and respect.


Background info:

This is hypothesized to be a reaction to a series of audio recordings that were anonymously released over time. These were ridiculously damning, clearly someone is tapping phones without anyone else's knowledge.

Previously:

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/feb/27/turkish-pm-corr... http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/iw/contents/articles/origina... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2013_corruption_scandal_in_Turk...

Some highlights from the "alleged" recordings so far:

- PM calling to get news about an opposing party removed from a TV channel multiple times

- Modifying political poll results to manipulate public opinion

- Getting people of opposing opinions fired

- Buying a large paper shredder to destroy documents

- PM calling son to ask how much money there is at home, son replies saying about 1 trillion, then switches to 3-5 kurush (cents in turkish).

- PM calling son to say "they're raiding the houses, zero out the money". Son says there's only 30 million euros left.

- Call to order the judges to be fixed, and says that a specific person is to be imprisoned.

- Trying to manipulate who goes on the supreme court.

- Says "ignore the prosecutor who's running the corruption investigations". Orders documents ripped up.

(source: http://www.hurriyet.com.tr/yazarlar/25981622.asp)

The official reason for the shutdown is that there were sexual photos of some poor citizen released on twitter against her will, and she complained but twitter refused to take them down. So they decided to shut down the entire website. Yeah, right.

Of course this is ominous that at the end of this month, the local elections will take place. No coincidence.

It's surreal how all this is going down. It's like watching a conspiracy theory movie. Blatant shills everywhere, media manipulation abounds, blatant lies heard on TV from the horse's mouth. We were all skeptical already, it's inevitable when you live in a third world country for years, but wow. When you hear the insiders actually talking to each other, it's a whole new level.

more news on this specific event: http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/turkey-blocks-twitter-after... http://www.aljazeera.com/news/europe/2014/03/turkey-erdogan-...

Related old post here: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7189577

edit: Erdogan stated a few days ago that he didn't care what the world thought, and he would eradicate twitter. He said "how dare they listen to our encrypted phone conversations". It's expected that on the 25th, something huge is going to be released that might sway the elections bigtime. Whoever is posting these are doing it slowly and deliberately, a few days at a time, building up anticipation. So people think that twitter getting shut down is probably related to this.

edit2: All recordings were put on youtube by someone: https://www.youtube.com/user/haramzadeler333


I just want to add few things:

Most of the leaking tapes are from the corruption investigation that was effectively blocked by the PM. His son was to be detained too but he shuffled or dismissed any prosecutor or police force that would dare to. Later he restructured the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors and did everything to stop the investigation and arrests.

The son of the Interior minister was arrested too but the Interior minister himself remained in power till he helped out Erdogan to restructure judiciary and law enforcement forces.

The legal files were leaked too. Turns out the Interior Minister knew about the ongoing investigation,so he created a team in the police to surveillance the other policemen who were after his son.

It's surreal.


Do you happen to know where I can find translations for the youtube videos?


I think this is the best you can do right now:

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7297985


Thank you very much.


Imagine if government had the power to flick a switch place perfect earplugs and blinders on every human everywhere for a time for some political agenda.

I wonder how far men would go (short of just killing people) to suppress the right for people to think, in order to suppress some information floating around in the public space.

Would you flick that switch, to power down an entire nation of drones, just to prevent them from finding out that you did something evil?

Take care you NEVER give other men the right to shut down your brain from afar. It WILL be used against you.


Earlier today "Turkey’s Erdogan Now Says He’ll Shut Down Twitter, Too" http://time.com/32339/turkey-erdogan-twitter/


Wow:

“I don’t care what the international community says. Everyone will witness the power of the Turkish Republic.”

Did he actually say that? In regards to shutting down twitter to stop a scandal? If you truly weren't responsible for w/e scandal, then wouldn't you just not care?

Edit: Also that line seems perfect for a James Bond villain lol.


He did say that. He's out of control unfortunately.


He is really one of those James Bond villains.

The sentence describes his state of mind: He is the best thing for the country, so any resistance, corruption news, and protest cannot come from people of this country. It must be a conspiracy of the west. So, by blocking twitter, he is blocking west's conspiracy. He started believing his own propaganda.

The truth is people who vote for him is mostly poorer Turks, and those people don't care about twitter.


It seems there are a couple of countries with the same problem in their leadership. How the F do these people get into power?


Many of them actually get power-hungry while in power.

Especially the ones who get elected after spending some time in the opposition under not-so-democratic regimes.


Please don't call it leadership, it's dictatorial power.


I just tried pinging twitter with this tool, the turkey server seems to work:

http://cloudmonitor.ca.com/en/ping.php?vtt=1395356295&vargho...

but china, egypt, and interestingly panama don't. I'd love to report on this but it's hard to prove this kind of thing. any ideas? (i'm also contacting twitter)

edit: here's my story -

http://www.nbcnews.com/tech/social-media/twitter-blocked-nat...

please let me know if you see anything wrong. (we're aware of the turkish character issues...sigh)


Hi, The method for blocking websites in Turkey is through ISP's DNS servers. So when you don't use a Turkish ISP DNS server you are all good with most of the blocked sites. Some websites, especially popular porn sites are blocked through the IP. In such cases you need a VPN or proxy.

The tool you are using to check Twitter servers probably don't use a Turkish DNS server.

If you don't believe, check the website status from the Informational Technology and Communication presidency of Turkey website: http://eekg.tib.gov.tr/

The court orders are displayed both in English and Turkish.


Thanks for the information, I'll try to include this in my report.


You are welcome. If you have any questions feel free to ask, you can reach me by twitter too: @mrtksn

this is how the DNS Look-up for twitter looks like at the moment: http://i.imgur.com/yKmmDYc.jpg

I used TTNET's DNS server for this. It's the biggest ISP in the country.


~$ traceroute www.twitter.com

traceroute to www.twitter.com (195.175.254.2), 30 hops max, 60 byte packets

1 192.168.43.1 (192.168.43.1) 3.008 ms 5.479 ms 5.466 ms

2 10.182.5.82 (10.182.5.82) 395.945 ms 395.939 ms 395.924 ms

3 10.182.5.81 (10.182.5.81) 392.815 ms * 392.941 ms

4 10.182.5.234 (10.182.5.234) 395.846 ms 419.025 ms 419.020 ms 5 10.182.5.237 (10.182.5.237) 419.008 ms * 418.972 ms

6 46.234.2.9 (46.234.2.9) 418.958 ms 377.874 ms 798.912 ms 7 88.255.35.29.dynamic.ttnet.com.tr (88.255.35.29) 1208.763 ms 1208.767 ms 1208.767 ms

8 * ulus-t2-1-ulus-t3-1.turktelekom.com.tr.203.212.81.in-addr.arpa (81.212.203.66) 1208.713 ms 1208.699 ms

9 ulus-t3-6-ulus-t2-1.turktelekom.com.tr.29.212.81.in-addr.arpa (81.212.29.99) 1212.270 ms 1212.279 ms 1212.280 ms

10 * * *

This is the blocking point.


It is a DNS based block. If that server uses a custom dns or has different caching rules etc, it would not be affected from the block.


DNS based block at the moment, IP based one will follow for sure. Please remember that YouTube was also banned for a couple of years in the past [1].

This is related to the corruption scandal in Turkey, Tayyip Erdogan's government is trying to stop the release of leaked tapes on social media.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Censorship_of_YouTube#.C2.A0Tur...


That's old. IP and URL based censorship methods (with TCP packet inspection) is in place already in Turkey. We have seen various individual URLs getting blocked related to the the bribery and corruption leaks of PM and other ministers in past few months. So don't be so hopeful. DNS is not a permanent solution, they can block it entirely just tomorrow.


Unfortunately Erdogan is out of control, they use DNS based blocking. I'm using a VPN service so I can access Twitter, Youtube and other services easily but in our country probably 0.01% has VPN so this is serious.


Ah, blocking twitter, the last refuge of despots[1].

http://techcrunch.com/2011/01/25/twitter-blocked-egypt/


For the time being, Twitter is accessable from within Turkey using the DNS of the biggest ISPs of Turkey, 195.175.39.39


nope, unfortunately it's just your DNS cache.


Twitter has been playing a pivotal role in connecting people and getting the word out via an unbiased medium. The effect of twitter has been phenomenal over the past few years in countries that have undergone political revolution. Much of the reality that the citizens need to know are blacked out by mainstream media because it's controlled by the government & corporations who are hand in glove.

Unfortunately, many countries have resorted to a simple fix of policing twitter. Second unfortunate thing is that twitter is still restricted to the tech savvy crowd. There's still a sizable population outside third world that don't know what it is & how to use it. But as long as we have un-policed social media tools, we might see large scale cleaning in the coming decades.


The real question is why Erdogan took risk an blocked Twitter just 10 days before elections? The only reason I see is this Twitter account with almost 500.000 followers who is revealing government corruption: https://twitter.com/FuatAvni For English version of his tweets see: https://twitter.com/FuatAvniEng (usually translation is delayed 1-2 weeks)


Reminds me of this scene from Pirates of Silicon Valley:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b27Mf6wTZ3w

"It’s about power. It’s like those weird countries man where the army guys overthrow the president. The first thing that they take over is the way people communicate; radio, tv, newspapers. Information is power."

Turkish army has nothing to do with this case of course.


In this case I'm not so sure.

They just say: we can take things from you, and you can't do anything about that. They'll just say that you had them "elected" - as if someone voting for them gave them rights to take what is not theirs.

They're just trying to teach the young generation helplessness. You can't do anything, better learn your VPN, feel fear and don't touch politics. You're a minority anyway compared to an army of aged citizens so no point in trying. They're vote for any extortion for a small share of profits.



Crucial services that can be choked off need to be made seamlessly (zero thinking UX) available via overlay networks (tor, etc).

IOW, if twitter is blocked, there should be a browser plugin / standard thing that fires itself up and automatically reconnects through said overlay network.

Because right now, a single domain is a SPoF that govts can flick a switch and neuter most of their populace's communication.


Irony: Twitter ban being spread to the world via Twitter itself. A perfect example of how powerful the internet is despite of the governments.


I'm from Istanbul, and I love how this block makes my pro-govt friends say "Why did they do this?". Twitter is (was?) used extensively in Turkey, and I feel like this block will end up with the government shooting itself in the foot by showing their supporters how sad the things they do are. There's no explanation for this block, and there can't ever be.


Just when you think Turkey is a 1st world country...


Yeah, like the UK, right?


[deleted]


Excuse me, pasting in Turkish, trying to help out. http://i.imgur.com/DBIvTh0.png


you can use hotspot shield, it's also available in mobile devices.

http://www.hotspotshield.com/


there exist a cross platform solution namely spotflux (a free vpn service). also, tor browser could be a way


thanks for the shout-out :)


Hotspot shield, or any other VPN.


SSH tunneling.


This is really a shocking news for all the twitter users from Turkey. They should raise voice against it. by http://www.etunescafe.com


Sitting in Ataturk airport right now and twitter is working fine.


sorry then, we are mistaken.


Something has to be done before this sets an example for other governments. Freedom cannot be taken away from anyone.


Considering the fact that I'm seeing #TwitterisblockedinTurkey as a worldwide trend despite of the ban I would say they are far from being able to take away the freedom at all. They will also probably realize that not far from now.


The rest of the world tweeting about it doesn't mean that much to Turkish people as they won't be seeing the trend lists, and their government doesn't seem to care that the rest of the world is paying attention.


Actually, censorship is nothing new for Turkey so some serious portion of the population knows how to overcome it. Probably these tweets are sent mostly by Turks in Turkey :)

However, this is not the whole story. The current ruling party has huge support from the uneducated and/or religious masses that may not be that informed about the technology. Since 3 months new corruption documents are leaked through twitter, which puts pressure on the PM. Just yesterday there was a phone conversation of one of the Ministers leaked and apparently the guy was mocking Islam when he was trying to look like as devoted muslim in front of the public.


Apparently 8 or 9 of the trending topics are about the ban in Turkey too: http://imgur.com/9Etk4fd


This is so ridiculous. As if someone can't just set up a domain themselves and release the shit.


How do you promote the domain? That's the real question. Twitter makes it quick, effortless and free to disseminate really interesting information. It's slower, more cumbersome, possibly more expensive with other methods, even with something like email.


I think this is why we need an open source twitter / equivalent. Just to enable people to communicate even in local networks.


Lots of things happening around the Black Sea these days. Sochi Olympics, Crimea and now Turkey.


Does anyone know how it's currently blocked? twitter IP's, BGP or DNS?


Implemented via DNS, for now... You can see the court orders about sites from TIB's (The Presidency of Telecommunication) query site. http://eekg.tib.gov.tr/

It's a system where every ISP with a license has to abide. They download a list of domains that needs to be forwarded to a server operated by TIB to explain the reason of access blocking. They add these to their recursive DNS servers so traffic goes there. People using another DNS server other than their ISP's (e.g. Google Public DNS, OpenDNS, etc.) are currently able to access.


Thanks. Just confirmed through channels also.

Highly recommended that people, regardless of location, use encrypted DNS like OpenDNS to prevent monitoring, malicious in-flight modifications and DNS-based censorship.


Right now Turkish ISP's block twitter through their DNS. People using OpenDNS or Google DNS, or any other DNS service other than Turkish ISP's can access Twitter.

However it's expected to see Twitter's IP's blocked anytime soon. In Turkey some websites, especially porn websites are also blocked by IP.

Here is the DNS look-up result: http://i.imgur.com/yKmmDYc.jpg


turkey made a lot of progress recently. too bad it will all go down the drain like this.


^ Requesting namecoin based app


sad to see sites being blocked. Can you use Tor to get around this restriction?


some can, the majority can't.


Technically, yes. Usability-wise, no. Most Turkish internet users are mobile-based, anyway.


See https://guardianproject.info/apps/orbot/ for some easy to use Tor apps for Android.


Bullshit. I was tweeting from Istanbul just 3 days ago.


This is an interesting comment. I think comments similar to this should be looked at and at least the message evaluated and at most the user profile examined.

I may start browsing comments which have been downvoted the most to create a list on political-heavy threads. However it may be difficult to determine whether the user is a shill or just stupid.


Many people would see this as a good thing.

It's just a big site run by some American company. Amazingly, there are other ways to communicate.


Turks doesn't have fanaticism towards domestic good. It's a central communication channel that is known to run by people who seems to be fair, them being American is obviously not relevant to them.


I agree. My post was rather tongue-in-cheek actually.

Call me cynical, but it just sometimes strikes me as odd how so many people around the world now rely on a company designed to make money by selling your information to communicate with the rest of the world. Especially in today's post-Snowden-revelations world. It's 'free', but that's how you 'pay'.

It turns out it's a simple DNS block which setting to Google's DNS is fixing for people.


Maybe there are local social networks favoured by those in Turkey, but if they are blocked what are the chances the rest of the world hears about it or cares?


true


Then use Twister [1]. Twister is NSA-proof, censorship reistant, and based on the bitcoin protocol.

[1] http://twister.net.co/


It is nontrivial to switch millions of people over to a completely new platform and reestablish the literally billions of connections among them, nor is Twister's infrastructure ready to handle the influx.

For now, Twitter over VPN/TOR is the only workable solution.


There are two sides of the coin.

1) In this day and age shutting down Twitter wholesale is simply a silly and undemocratic move. Information can not be blocked and will find its way around anyway. Like many people I am against it.

2) There is a blatant violation of personal rights of people by fabricated phone-tapes. You take it to the court and court decides that these are illegal, and ask the service provider (in this case Twitter) to take down those specific twits. They don't comply. What do you do?

Say there's a link for a fabricated phone conversation of Obama betraying the country disseminated using Twitter. The administration take it to the court and win the legal battle. Could Twitter afford not to comply? Can this happen?

This is the gist of the problem people are having over there.


First of all just because something is legal it doesn't mean it's right.

And if only it was legal...


What I told are possible explanations and scenarios. I took the side of the 1st option which is what you defend as well. We are not in a position to be the judge ourselves. When we say something it needs to explain something. That's what I tried yet you downvoted, which unfair and mean. I stand by what I think of you.


For the record, I'm not one of the downvoters and not just because my karma is not enough.

But come on, "They are as good as those that blocked Twitter in Turkey." is harsh to say the least.


So far this comment got downvoted twice. I bet those who downvote are Turkish. They are not explaining why did they downvote. They are as good as those that blocked Twitter in Turkey.


I've down voted you because you claim that the leaked phone conversations are fabricated.

few things about it:

1) some of the people involved accepted the authenticity of these recordings(some directly, some logically)

2) the recordings that were denied being authentic were investigated by audio forensic experts and they reported that these are real.

3) the pro-government media tried to scam US based audio studios to get reports to falsify these recordings. for an example, the mainstream pro-akp media used a report by Kaleidoscope Sound which was later denied by the studio. You can read their public statement here: https://www.facebook.com/KaleidoscopeSound

4) Other evidence brought to light by the opposition party supports the authenticity of these recordings.

5) These recordings are part of the legal prosecution.

Though there were some recordings that were made illegally, the fact that the ruling party actively blocked the legal prosecution lives no choice for the public to learn about the accusations from the whistleblower.

If the legal process was not blocked it would have been better to wait for the outcome of the prosecution, but in this case we don't have choice.


1) All of the recordings? 2) Again, for all the recordings? 3) I checked it out. They are saying that they do not know if the recordings are authentic. Since accused can not provide the original recordings actually there's no point even seeking for such forensic examination. It has to be inconclusive, that is why illegally obtained wiretappings are rendered always invalid by the courts. In that case spreading recordings that can not stand such scrutiny is an attempt of defamation, and illegal. 4) I can not check that. 5) What prosecution? Does it have a name/date?

Again I am against the blockage. However we need try to understand what could have pushed the Turkish Courts to take such grave measures.


I was right :) They ARE Turkish. Again, censorship is rampant in the opposition as well...


Downvoting you is not censorship.


blocking Twitter is not censorship(because you can't expose private conversations about corruption) but downvoting is(because you are preventing pro-government statements being celebrated).

this is what Turkish people are dealing with.




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