Twitter and Facebook have been blocked in Turkey following orders from a court in Ankara. On Sunday night, the court issued the order after a bomb blast at a busy bus stop in the heart of the capital. Local users reported that 34 people were killed and 125 injured in the car explosion, and images from it were being shared widely on these sites.
Twitter seeing growing content removal requests
Issuing gag orders on the media has been a trend with the courts for a long time, but this practice has left Facebook and Twitter usually unaffected, says a report from The Telegraph. Experts believe people can still communicate in Turkey using VPNs.
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In the last six months of 2015, the country made the most content removal requests to Twitter. In the first six months of 2015, the country made 408 content removal requests, while in the last six months, it made 450 such requests, as mentioned in Twitter’s transparency report.
In 2013, the number of content removal requests from the court was just 5, and it went up to 393 in 2014. When it comes to removal requests from police and government agencies, the number has gone up from 310 in the first half of 2015 to 1,761 in the latter half.
Turkey and freedom of the press
Only state-run TRT is allowed to put up images of the bombing, says a report from The Independent citing a source inside TRT. Turkey has been criticized widely for curbing freedom of the press. A ban on media was also imposed in October after the biggest attack on Turkey and a car bombing last month, stopping the media from broadcasting or printing images of the dead or injured from the scene of the explosion.
Some days after the twin bombings in October, a gag order was issued to ban media organizations from reporting on the investigation into the terror attack. Last year, far-left terrorists held a prosecutor hostage, after which his images were widely shared, and this led authorities to block access to Twitter.