The Turkish government blocked access to YouTube on Thursday, a week after it banned Twitter and just hours after alleged recordings of Turkish government security meetings on Syria were uploaded to YouTube.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has made repeated threats to block YouTube and Facebook after he banned Twitter on March 20. “You cannot bug lines under any law, but they went too far, and we will get into their cave to catch them,” Erdogan told an election rally in the western province of Denizli on March 1, referring to alleged leaked recordings of Turkish government officials’ phone calls.
Erdogan and his supporters allege that social media sites like Twitter and YouTube are rife with illegal and inappropriate content. Erdogan’s critics contend that the prime minister’s social media offensive is a ploy to silence corruption allegations against him and his government that have been shared via YouTube and Twitter, as well as a way to shore up popular support ahead of municipal elections this weekend.
Erdogan banned YouTube based on a new law passed on Feb. 6 that boosted the regulatory authority of Turkey’s Telecommunication Directorate (TİB).
“After technical analysis and legal consideration based on the Law Nr. 5651, ADMINISTRATION MEASURE has been taken for this website (Youtube.com) according to Decision Nr. 490.05.01.2014.-48125 dated 27/03/2014 of Telekomünikasyon İletişim Başkanlığı,” reads a notice on TİB’s website, according to Turkey’s Hurriyet Daily News.
The YouTube ban comes one day after an administrative court in Ankara, Turkey’s capital, ordered the government to suspend the Twitter ban. Immediately after the Wednesday ruling, media speculated that Twitter access would soon be restored. The Turkish government, however, has 30 days to comply with the ruling. As of yet, they have failed to comply.
The same day, Twitter also filed a lawsuit in Turkish courts, claiming the government’s Twitter ban was illegal. The lawsuit alleges that the Turkish government overstepped its bounds by blocking all of Twitter rather than individual accounts, as recently enacted Turkish legislation allows.
The United States, United Nations, and European Union, among others, have also called on Turkey to lift the Twitter ban. Turkish users have been able to bypass the ban via VPNs; however, YouTube is more difficult to stream using a VPN.
This latest social media assault is expected to reignite anger against Erdogan, who, along with the corruption scandals, has been fighting anti-government protests since May 2013. Still, Twitter was rife with mockery of Erdogan’s latest move.