Twitter is working to restore service to Turkish citizens on Friday, after Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan blocked access to the microblogging social network earlier this week.
“We stand with our users in Turkey who rely on Twitter as a vital communications platform,” Twitter’s policy team said in a tweeted statement. “We hope to have full access returned soon.”
The ban came shortly after anonymous users posted audio clips of what could be incriminating evidence of Erdogan and other top Turkish officials engaging in corruption — clips that emerged just days before key local elections in the country. Erdogan apparently used a court order to command Turkey’s telecommunications authority to block Twitter use within the country, though many have found easy ways to circumvent the ban and access the service.
Turkish President Abdullah Gul spoke out against Erdogan’s actions — in a series of tweets, appropriately enough — claiming that suppression of the service should occur only if citizens’ personal freedoms were being violated. The White House also issued a statement on Friday railing against Erdogan’s ban.
“We oppose this restriction on the Turkish people’s access to information, which undermines their ability to exercise freedoms of expression and association,” the White House said in a statement. “We have conveyed our serious concern to the Turkish government, urge Turkish authorities to respect the freedom of the press by permitting the independent and unfettered operation of media of all kinds, and support the people of Turkey in their calls to restore full access to the blocked technologies.”
Turkish citizens are no strangers to censorship; in the past, government officials have blocked access to YouTube for offensive comments against leadership at the time. This is the first time Twitter — a company that prides itself on providing a free-speech platform for people around the world — has been blocked in the country.
Currently, however, Facebook has not been blocked by the Turkish government. Facebook declined to comment when asked if it had received any takedown requests from Turkey. A senior Turkish official told Reuters that the government had no plans to block Facebook or other social networks.