Twitter became inaccessible on main mobile phone provider in Turkey last Wednesday amid growing online criticism of the government’s response to the earthquake that struck Turkey and Syria.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who visited the province of Hatay (south), one of the most affected, on the Syrian border, recognized “gaps” in the management of this tragedy. He, however, castigated the “dishonest” critics, saying it is “impossible to be prepared for such a disaster”.
Twitter in Turkey : Rise of criticism
Turkish social media is flooded with messages from people complaining about a lack of rescue efforts and searches for victims in their areas, especially in Hatay. AFP journalists were unable to connect to Twitter in Turkey, which remained accessible through VPN accounts that masked the user’s location.
Internet governance watchdog netblocks.org pointed out that access to Twitter was restricted and then completely blocked through Turkey’s largest internet service providers. “This filtering risks having an impact on the rescue operations” of the victims, Netblocks.org lamented, adding that Turkey had “a long history of restrictions (in the use) of social networks during emergency situations. National and Security Incidents”. Turkish officials made no immediate statement about the Twitter disruptions.
But they had repeatedly warned against the spread of disinformation before the presidential election on May 14 – the day when legislative elections will also take place – during which Recep Tayyip Erdogan is seeking a new mandate after twenty years in office. power. “Stop this shame immediately,” said Kemal Kilicdaroglu, leader of the main opposition CHP party. “We already know everything they want to hide.”
Twitter in Turkey : Opposition challenges
Nationalist opposition Iyi party leader Meral Aksener said Twitter was needed to “relay the needs of earthquake victims”. “What the hell is this?” she added. The two political leaders are part of the “Table of Six”, the name given to the alliance of six opposition parties which are trying to agree to block the head of state.
Beyond the political sphere, Turkish rock star Haluk Levent, who has 7.2 million Twitter followers and helps victims, tweeted: “Now what do we do?” Turkish police have arrested more than 12 people since Monday’s earthquake for social media posts criticizing the Turkish government’s handling of the disaster.
Rescuers still manage to find survivors in the rubble on Wednesday, even if the chances of survival are dwindling, two days after the terrible earthquake, the toll of which continues to grow and now exceeds 12,000 dead in Turkey and Syria.