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Turkey Blocks Twitter After Public Criticism of Quake Response

The Twitter logo is seen on a smartphone held besides a Turkish flag. Photo: EPA/Karl-Josef Hildenbrand

Following complaints about the slow official response to Monday’s earthquakes, the government has blocked most access to Twitter – a main source of communication for relatives of victims, survivors and aid campaigners.

The Turkish government has blocked most access to Twitter following growing public anger towards President Recep Tayyip Erdogan government’s response to Monday’s deadly earthquakes.

“Twitter has been restricted in #Turkey; the filtering is applied on major internet providers and comes as the public come to rely on the service in the aftermath of a series of deadly earthquakes,” NetBlocks, an internet observatory that follows global net freedoms, announced.

People now cannot access Twitter at all via two of the three main internet providers. TurkTelekom and Turkcell have completely blocked access. Vodafone still allows slower access to Twitter.

Days after the most devastating earthquake disaster in modern-day Turkey, the government has so far failed to deliver assistance to several areas devastated by two major quakes registering 7.9 and 7.7 on the Richter scale, leaving thousands dead.

The government has not announced or commented on the Twitter ban. The government previously restricted social media access following disasters, terror attacks and protests.

Experts, politicians and people criticised the ban, saying that Twitter was the main source of communications for many people searching for survivors and victims as well as for local and nationwide aid campaigns.

Kemal Kilicdaroglu, leader of the main opposition Republican People’s Party, CHP said they will continue to use Twitter with VPN. “I told my friends in the field to use VPN for cooperation coordination. This insane … the government cut off social media communication,” Kilicdaroglu said.

His anger is shared by many people. “By restricting Twitter at this time, you are preventing or delaying help from reaching people who can reach it. You are killing people on purpose,” Ali Gul, a lawyer and activist, wrote on Twitter.

According to official figures, at least 8,574 people lost their lives, more than 49,000 people were injured and thousands of buildings were destroyed in the quakes.

President Erdogan visited quake-hit cities on Wednesday and asked for patience from people due to the government’s slow response.

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