Twitter inaccessible for several hours in Turkey, amid criticism of the authorities

Twitter inaccessible for several hours in Turkey, amid criticism against the authorities


Access to Twitter was restored in Turkey on Thursday after being blocked for around 12 hours on the country's main mobile phone providers, amid mounting criticism of the government's response to the earthquake that struck Turkey and Syria. 

The return to service, noted by an AFP journalist in Turkey, came shortly after a tweet from the boss of the social network , Elon Musk, that “Twitter has been informed by the Turkish government that access will be reactivated shortly”.

The internet governance watchdog, which had warned of the shutdown, confirmed the restoration of the service.

Since the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that struck the country On Monday, Turkish social media is inundated with messages from people complaining about the slow deployment of relief supplies.

Turkish Deputy Infrastructure Minister Omer Fatih Sayan clarified in a tweet on Thursday that be interviewed by two senior Twitter executives, John Hughes and Ronan Costello.

“We reminded them of their responsibility towards our country following this disaster”, he underlined, specifying to wish more cooperation in the “fight against disinformation”. had estimated that the filtering risked “impacting the rescue operations” of the victims, adding that Turkey had “a long history of restrictions (in the use) of social networks during national emergencies and incidents of security”.

During the shutdown, access to Twitter remained possible via VPN accounts masking the user's location.

Turkish officials have in recent weeks repeatedly issued warnings about the use social networks ahead of the presidential and legislative elections on May 14, where Mr. Erdogan is seeking a new mandate after 20 years in power.

“We already know everything they want to hide,” said Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the leader of the main opposition CHP party.

Nationalist opposition Iyi party leader Meral Aksener said Twitter was needed to “relay the needs of earthquake victims”. “What the hell is this?” she added. 

The two political leaders are part of the “Table of Six”, the name given to the alliance of six opposition parties that are trying to agree to block the head of state. 

Beyond the political sphere, Turkish rock-star Haluk Levent, who has 7.2 million Twitter followers and helps victims , had tweeted: “Now what do we do?”

Turkish police have arrested a dozen people since Monday's earthquake for social media posts, criticizing the way the Turkish government managed the disaster. 

Rescue workers continue to search through the rubble, although the chances of survival dwindle for three days, as the death toll now exceeds 15,000 in Turkey and Syria .