Authoritarian regimes hate Twitter. Hate it, hate it, hate it. It gives their people a way to openly express themselves and communicate and, honestly, who wants that? Except, you know, people who like having freedom, which means pretty much everyone.
That is why Twitter has been officially banned in China since 2009, and why it has suffered crack downs in countries like Iran and Egypt, while they were having their revolutions in 2009 and 2010, respectively.
The move came just hours after Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan mocked the service, and then said that he would "wipe out" the social network. He apparently followed through on those threats.
So, why do this now? Because Erdogan is being accused of corruptions; those allegations were made on Twitter. Hence his desire to shut down the service. There is also the fact that local elections take place in the country on March 30.
Of course, neither of those is not the official reason the government is giving for the move. Instead, they are accusing Twitter of refusing to remove certain links from its site, which have been deemed illegal by the country's courts.
"If Twitter officials insist on not implementing court orders and rules of law ... there will be no other option but to prevent access to Twitter to help satisfy our citizens' grievances," Erdogan’s office said in a statement to Reuters.
VatorNews has reached out to Twitter for comment on the situation and we will update if we learn more. The only statement that the company seems to be giving on the situation, so far, is a tweet it sent to Turkish users, telling them how they can still send out texts despite what has happened:
Turkish users: you can send Tweets using SMS. Avea and Vodafone text START to 2444. Turkcell text START to 2555.— Policy (@policy) March 20, 2014
Of course, this move did not come out of nowhere. In fact, this is not even the first time that Turkey has given Twitter grief.
In June of last year, the Turkish government reportedly asked Twitter to establish a representative office in the country, in order to have more control over the service.
It also asked that Twitter reveal the identities of users who posted messages that were deemed to be insulting to the government or prime minister, or which advocated for the personal rights of citizens.
Turkey made these requests do after weeks of anti-government protests, which began over the eviction of a sit-in at Taksim Gezi Park in Istanbul protesting the park's demolition. The initial protests were led by roughly 50 environmentalists; since then the riots then spread across the country. Dozens were arrested and hundreds injured.
While the Turkish news media apparently ignored the protests, they did not escape the eye of those on social media, hence why the government wanted to tighten its grip.
(Image source: tribune.com)