Turkish and global social media users have mocked moves by Turkey’s government to restrict access to Twitter.
The hashtags #TwitterisblockedinTurkey and #Turkey blockedTwitter became the top trending topics globally on Friday, just hours after the Turkish government imposed the ban.
The number of tweets from Turkey reportedly rose by 138 percent as savvy Internet users, including the country’s president Abdullah Gul, found it easy to circumvent the shutdown.
“The whole world is laughing at you #ErdoganBlockedTwitter,” users tweeted, as dozens of images mocking the ban – including one showing Twitter birds covering Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s head in droppings – were shared on the platform.
Another popular tweet shared a poster of the prime minister on a Barack Obama campaign poster with the message, “Yes, we ban”.
Erdogan on Thursday night promised to “root out” and wipe out” the social media platform after users published claims of corruption against him.
Leaked recordings shared and linked on Twitter include one in which Erdogan allegedly instructs his son to dispose of large amounts of cash from a residence amid a police corruption probe.
Erdogan insists the recordings are fabricated “vile fakes” and part of a plot to discredit the government ahead of the March 30 election.
On Friday, Twitter users were forwarded a statement by twitter.com from Turkey’s telecoms regulator, TIB, which cited court orders for the site’s apparent closure.
Twitter also posted a message instructing Turkish users on how to continue using the service via SMS text message.
Many of the country’s estimated 12 million Twitter users shared instructions on other workarounds for the ban, including the use of a virtual private network, or VPN, that hides the origin of tweets.
The ban was denounced as censorship throughout Turkey, including by President Gul, who tweeted that “the shutdown of an entire social platform is unacceptable”.
“Besides, as I have said many times before it is technically impossible to close down communication technologies like Twitter entirely,” Gul tweeted to his four million-plus followers.
The mayor of Ankara, Melih Gokcek, became the first member of Erdogan’s own Justice and Development party to breach the ban. “I am able to tweet because my DNS settings allow it,” he tweeted.
In response to the shutdown, Turkey’s main opposition party, Republican People’s Party, announced it would file a legal challenge to the court order.
The closure was also criticised globally, with the vice-president of the European Commission, Neelie Kroes, tweeting that the ban was “groundless, pointless, cowardly”.
“Turkish people and intl community will see this as censorship. It is,” Kroes said.