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Ankara Doubles Down on Twitter Amid Global Ridicule

Turkish officials over the weekend and on Monday deepened their efforts to cut the country off from Twitter, despite being met with quite literally global ridicule last week for trying and conspicuously failing to stifle public use of the popular microblogging service.

“Fortunately, the people of this world, including Turkey, are strong, and democracy will continue to stand. As such, the attempt to censor Twitter in Turkey has all but failed.”

Those who think they can control the Internet and people’s right to communicate should be made to think again and in Turkey this week that point has been admirably made. According to analysis site Zete.com, tweets in Turkey before the ban numbered 10 million a day – they now sit at 24 million.

The country’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan had vowed to “eradicate” Twitter. The effort was quickly characterized as designed to stifle discussion of a still-widening graft investigation that had long ago expanded to include top elites from Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP), including the Prime Minister and his family.

Turkey’s Hurriyet Daily News reported Monday that Ankara’s efforts to block Twitter had expanded to include the service’s URL shortener t.co, “making it harder for those who successfully circumvent the ban reach the content shared elsewhere.” Hurriyet had reported over the weekend on a previous series of moves designed to thwart efforts to circumvent the ban, including an IP-level block that defeated one popular way of sidestepping the restriction.

From a strictly technical perspective Ankara’s efforts are a non-starter: technological penetration in Turkey is too extensive, and the central government’s control over that technology is too weak, for the ban to hold up.

However Fadi Hakura, the manager of the Turkey Project at London’s Chatham House think-tank, assessed yesterday that Erdogan is unlikely to see his political support significantly eroded by the move.

What the Twitter ban indicates is that the Turkish leadership psychology is incapable of tackling effectively the myriad serious political, economic and external challenges facing the country.

[Photo: CCTV America / YouTube]