Twitter blocked in Turkey as PM vows to 'wipe out' site
'Twitter, schmitter!' cries Prime Minister Erdogan after damaging allegations flood social networks
TURKISH authorities have attempted to block Twitter ahead of local elections, with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowing to "wipe out" the social network.
Many Tweeters logging on to Twitter.com found themselves redirected to a statement by Turkey's telecommunications regulator, citing four court orders as the basis for blocking the site.
It comes after allegations of corruption in the prime minister's inner circle were circulated on social networks ahead of 30 March elections. Voice recordings and documents were posted, purportedly showing evidence of corruption – a claim Erdogan denies.
"Twitter, mwitter!" he told thousands of supporters at a rally last night – a phrase translating roughly as "Twitter, schmitter!" says the Daily Telegraph.
"We will wipe out all of these," he said. "The international community can say this, can say that. I don't care at all. Everyone will see how powerful the Republic of Turkey is."
His office said that Twitter had not responded to Turkey's court rulings to remove certain links, forcing Ankara to act.
However, the Turkish telecoms watchdog claims the ban followed complaints from citizens that the social network was breaching privacy. "Access to Twitter was blocked in line with court decisions to avoid the possible future victimisation of citizens," it said.
Twitter has so far made no public comment on the issue, but sent out a tweet on Thursday advising users in Turkey that it was still possible to send tweets using mobile phone text messaging.
Turkish users: you can send Tweets using SMS. Avea and Vodafone text START to 2444. Turkcell text START to 2555.
— Policy (@policy) March 20, 2014
The Turkish president Abdullah Gul has managed to get onto the site and has tweeted that the closure is "unacceptable". Meanwhile, a senior official has said that Turkey has no current plans to block access to other social media platforms.
Erdogan himself has a Twitter account, followed by 4.17 million people, although he does not follow anyone.
In 2010, the country lifted its ban on YouTube – two years after it blocked access to the website because of videos deemed insulting to the country's founder, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.