Turkey, known for its on and off ban on Facebook, Twitter and Youtube has lifted the ban on social networking websites, pending talks with Youtube on adherence to government rules not to publish photos or spread them on their platforms.
The recent ban was imposed following a court order to stop sharing images of a lawyer being held at gunpoint started appearing on social media. As Facebook and Twitter complied with the court order to stop sharing the images, the ban was lifted and Youtube is still negotiating, said government sources.
Turkish lawyer Mehmet Selim Kiraz was taken hostage for leading a probe into the death of a boy during anti-government protests in 2013 and all the three hostages were killed in a police raid to free them.
Terming the image as “anti-government propaganda”, nearly 166 websites have been blocked in Turkey and even those in print media were stopeed from pubishing those images. The government said the family of the lawyer was upset with the images, hence the crackdown.
Despite freedom of expression guaranteed under Article 90 of the Constitution, Turkey was ranked 138 in the Reporters Without Borders’ 2010 Annual Worldwide Press Freedom Index. and 148 in 2011-2012.
Twitter’s 2014 Transparency Report said Turkey had asked 5 times for content removal. In fact, Turkey has been asked by the European Union to adhere to freedom of expression and press as a prerequisite to enter the EU.
Besides social problems, insults to Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founding father of modern Turkey often led Turkey to ban social media, Youtube or websites.
Here is a chronology of Turkey’s ban on Facebook, Twitter or Youtube:
On 7 March 2007, Turkish courts imposed a ban on YouTube due to a speculative video that it said insulted founding father Atatürk.
As of June 2010, beside YouTube, more than 8000 websites were banned, most of them pornographic and mp3 sharing sites.
Between July 2010 and October 2010, Turkey’s ban of YouTube was expanded to a range of IP addresses offering services by YouTube’s parent Google, including those of Google Docs, Google Translate, Google Books, Google Analytics, and Google Tools.
In the latest ban, on 6 April 2015, Turkey blocked access to Twitter, YouTube and Facebook following the hostage incident.