Turkey becomes the latest country to ban Twitter

Steven Loeb · March 21, 2014 · Short URL: https://vator.tv/n/35cd

Move comes after accusations on Twitter of corruption by Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan

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 latest country shut Twitter off during difficult times is Turkey, which cut the cord just after midnight in Turkey Thursday, according to various news sources, including Reuters and the BBC

 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:

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)

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What is Twitter?

Twitter is an online information network that allows anyone with an account to post 140 character messages, called tweets. It is free to sign up. Users then follow other accounts which they are interested in, and view the tweets of everyone they follow in their "timeline." Most Twitter accounts are public, where one does not need to approve a request to follow, or need to follow back. This makes Twitter a powerful "one to many" broadcast platform where individuals, companies or organizations can reach millions of followers with a single message. Twitter is accessible from Twitter.com, our mobile website, SMS, our mobile apps for iPhone, Android, Blackberry, our iPad application, or 3rd party clients built by outside developers using our API. Twitter accounts can also be private, where the owner must approve follower requests. 

Where did the idea for Twitter come from?

Twitter started as an internal project within the podcasting company Odeo. Jack Dorsey, and engineer, had long been interested in status updates. Jack developed the idea, along with Biz Stone, and the first prototype was built in two weeks in March 2006 and launched publicly in August of 2006. The service grew popular very quickly and it soon made sense for Twitter to move outside of Odea. In May 2007, Twitter Inc was founded.

How is Twitter built?

Our engineering team works with a web application framework called Ruby on Rails. We all work on Apple computers except for testing purposes. 

We built Twitter using Ruby on Rails because it allows us to work quickly and easily--our team likes to deploy features and changes multiple times per day. Rails provides skeleton code frameworks so we don't have to re-invent the wheel every time we want to add something simple like a sign in form or a picture upload feature.

How do you make money from Twitter?

There are a few ways that Twitter makes money. We have licensing deals in place with Google, Yahoo!, and Microsoft's Bing to give them access to the "firehose" - a stream of tweets so that they can more easily incorporate those tweets into their search results.

In Summer 2010, we launched our Promoted Tweets product. Promoted Tweets are a special kind of tweet which appear at the top of search results within Twitter.com, if a company has bid on that keyword. Unlike search results in search engines, Promoted Tweets are normal tweets from a business, so they are as interactive as any other tweet - you can @reply, favorite or retweet a Promoted Tweet. 

At the same time, we launched Promoted Trends, where companies can place a trend (clearly marked Promoted) within Twitter's Trending Topics. These are especially effective for upcoming launches, like a movie or album release.

Lastly, we started a Twitter account called @earlybird where we partner with other companies to provide users with a special, short-term deal. For example, we partnered with Virgin America for a special day of fares on Virginamerica.com that were only accessible through the link in the @earlybird tweet.


What's next for Twitter?

We continue to focus on building a product that provides value for users. 

We're building Twitter, Inc into a successful, revenue-generating company that attracts world-class talent with an inspiring culture and attitude towards doing business.