Yesterday, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced an attempt to “eradicate” Twitter. The move was a response to criticism on the social network of widespread corruption in his government.
The ban has so far proved ineffective. Today, The Guardian reported that Twitter users in Turkey have managed to send 2.5 million tweets since the announcement. Turkey ranks 8th in the world in Twitter penetration, and the government’s recent efforts to curb its citizens access to social media do not appear to be diminishing their enthusiasm for it.
HootSuite has emerged as one of the tools Twitter users are turning to as a means of circumventing the ban. Our traffic from Turkey has tripled in 24 hours. Through HootSuite, users can access their Twitter accounts, as well as Facebook, Google+ Pages and LinkedIn accounts. This follows the pattern we observed during the Arab Spring uprising in Egypt.
In addition to using HootSuite, Turkish Twitter users are finding many different ways to circumvent the ban, including a simple change of their DNS settings. Google employee Matt Cutts tweeted a simple fix using Google Public DNS:
Google Public DNS is fast with great uptime. Use 126.96.36.199 and 188.8.131.52 as your DNS servers.
— Matt Cutts (@mattcutts) March 21, 2014
As it did recently in Venezuela, Twitter is reaching out to its blocked users and suggesting another workaround. One of the simplest ways users can access Twitter is by using SMS:
Turkish users: you can send Tweets using SMS. Avea and Vodafone text START to 2444. Turkcell text START to 2555.
— Policy (@policy) March 20, 2014
Social media can and should be an essential tool for democratic participation and empowerment. Whether through HootSuite or one of the other methods available, Turkish Twitter users will find a way to connect with their fellow citizens and share their stories.