Turkish PM Erdogan vows to 'eradicate' Twitter, blocks access

March 21, 2014 at 10:08 AM
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ANKARA, Turkey, March 21 (UPI) -- Tweets from Turkey haven't dropped despite blocked access to Twitter after Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed to 'eradicate' it, statistics indicated.

A Twitturk report indicated #TwitterisblockedinTurkey and #TurkeyBlockedTwitter were trending only a few hours after Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced he would "eradicate" Twitter, Hurriyet Daily News reported Friday.

Turkey blocked access to Twitter Thursday after Erdogan vowed to shutter the social media platform.

"We now have a court order. We'll eradicate Twitter. I don't care what the international community says. Everyone will witness the power of the Turkish Republic's state," Erdogan, whose government embroiled in a corruption scandal, said during a campaign rally in Bursa.

Twitturk, which records statistics of Turkish Twitter users, reported more than 500,000 tweets were posted in just 10 hours despite the ban, marking little change from the average number of tweets -- about 1.8 million a day -- posted in the country.

The ban follows revelations in a corruption investigation and the release of phone conversations of government officials, including Erdogan's, Hurriyet said.

On his Twitter page, Turkish President Abdullah Gul said a shutdown of social media "cannot be approved," reiterating similar statements he's made before.

"A total shutdown of social media platforms cannot be approved," Gul posted Friday.

While stressing that such a ban couldn't be fully implemented, Gul also expressed hope that the government would reverse its decision.

"As I have said many times in the past, at the point where communication technologies have reached today it is technically impossible to entirely block access to social media platforms used across the world such as Twitter. I hope this practice will not last long," he tweeted.

A commentary published in Hurriyet suggested the decision to ban Twitter may be an attempt to prevent further damaging leaks in the run-up to the March 30 local elections, despite Erdogan saying the measure was taken "for the sake of its citizens."

In a statement Friday, the Turkish Telecommunications Authority said it took such a drastic measure to protect "private life privacy," Hurriyet reported.

"Twitter has been blocked as a preventive measure in order to prevent future damage to our citizens as a last resort," the statement said, adding that the website had ignored several Turkish court orders to withdraw online content.

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