2013 protests in Turkey. Image: Mistyslov Chernov/Wikimedia
“We’ll eradicate Twitter. I don’t care what the international community says," Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said at campaign rally today, according to the Hurriyet Daily News. "Everyone will witness the power of the Turkish Republic.”
Beginning last midnight, Erdogan appears to have succeeded in blocking access to the social network across the country. Turkey's 10 million Twitter users awoke to find they were locked out of the service.
My colleague Tim Pool, broke the news from Istanbul. He tells me that "the reaction seems to be anger and confusion. I see a lot of people on facebook just asking 'is twitter down for you?'"
The news comes as little surprise. Erdogan called Twitter a "menace to society" when a popular uprising swept the country last year, and has made noise about curtailing social media use in Turkey ever since.
Last Wednesday, the funeral for a populist icon, a 15-year-old who had lingered for months in a coma after he was struck in the head by a tear gas cannister, evolved into a mass protest. Twitter, and other social media outlets, played a role in the spontaneous organizing.
Erdogan said that Twitter had "ignored" court rulings that imposed local rules on its use, and the ban was the result of noncompliance. But it seems clear to demonstrators and opposition members that the ban is meant to stem dissent and deprive protesters a popular means of organizing. The outrage soon spilled over, naturally, to Twitter users everywhere.
According to journalist Matthew Keys, Twitter says it's "looking into" the ban.