It was one week ago that we reported how, furious at the way in which social media continued to spread rumors of government corruption, an increasingly hard-line Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was threatening to clamp down on Facebook and YouTube use in Turkey.
Then on Tuesday a 15 year boy died after being struck on the head by a tear gas canister during anti-government protests last week, prompting a wave of anger, with protesters taking to the streets and chanting ‘fascist government, Erdogan killer’.
Perhaps with Twitter’s widely help reputation for facilitating the various ‘Arab Spring’ demonstrations around the world in 2011 firmly in mind, Erdoğan today banned Twitter today amid both national and international outrage and condemnation.
Opposition deputy Aykan Erdemir of the Republican People’s Party (CHP) said ‘this is an unbelievable violation of fundamental rights and freedoms,’ and has threatened legal action, while German Chancellor Angela Merkel tweeted that ‘in a free society it is up to citizens to decide how to communicate, not the state.’
Evading the Twitter ban
Fortunately, getting round the Twitter ban is easy, as the 2.5 million tweets out of Turkey since the ban was introduced demonstrates (that’s around 17,000 tweets a minute as of 10.30am today).
- VPN – one of the easiest ways to evade the ban, VPN also protects your identity when surfing the internet, which in the present political climate could be a lifesaver for political bloggers and other critics of Erdoğan’s government. Good VPN services do cost a little money, but the free HotSpot Shield app (available on most platforms) should suffice for just sending Tweets and suchlike
- Tor – much slower, but even more anonymous that VPN (although VPN with an overseas provider should be more than sufficient for users in Turkey), the Tor bundle is free and easy to use
- SMS – suggested by Twitter’s policy team itself before the ban spread, users can send tweets via SMS
- Change DNS settings – one of the most popular methods used so far, and one that was widely publicised on Turkish newspaper websites, you can change your DNS settings to hide geographic location. We have a guide to doing this in Windows as part of this article, although we now prefer suggesting the OpenNIC DNS servers
- Lahana – developed specifically with the aim evading censorship in Turkey in mind, Lahana (meaning cabbage in Turkish) is a VPN-Tor bridge which makes setting up a node ‘stupidly easy’. It should not be considered a privacy tool, but is does work very well with Tor if privacy is required.
Our thoughts are with the Turkish people, and we wish them the best of luck in these troubling times.