A computer screen is seen on March 21 in Istanbul. AFP photo
The number of tweets sent from Turkey and in Turkish has shown a sharp decrease since Twitter was blocked late March 21. The drop particularly came after the government moved to extend the ban on DNS options, URL shorteners and VPN providers used to circumvent the blocked access to the website.
The restrictions implemented by the authorities and the fine-tuning of the ban for implementing a total blackout, with the blessing of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, seem to have given concrete results as the ban enters its sixth day.
According to statistics provided by the opinion research company semiocast, published by Hürriyet, the number of tweets sent from Turkey in fact dropped a third in 24 hours, from 1.2 million to 750,000.
The traffic dropped to 550-600,000 on the second day after many DNS sources were blocked. It then dropped slightly again on March 24, less than half of the number before the ban, after Turkey’s telecommunications authority started to implement IP-based blocks of access to the social media network.
The campaign against Twitter has also taken its toll on the number of Tweets sent globally in Turkish: The ratios fell from 2.98 pct to 1.58 pct three days after the ban.
The numbers also contradict initial reports of a surge in the quantity of tweets sent in Turkey, as mentioned by the U.S. State Department in a statement on March 24.
Many Turkish users are experiencing increasing difficulty in accessing Twitter and some VPNs used to work around the ban have started slowed computers down.
According to the prime minister, currently battling corruption allegations, there are “approximately 700 pieces of content” that his government has demanded be removed from Twitter, while he rejected claims that the ban was staining the country’s reputation.
Far from backpedalling from his salvo against the website, Erdoğan also recently warned YouTube that it could be also blocked if content was not withdrawn. He made a similar threat to Facebook during a massive rally in Istanbul, indicating that a ban on other social media and sharing websites could follow Twitter.