Twitter is investigating reports that the service was blocked in Turkey late Thursday after Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan warned at a rally that he will "eradicate Twitter" and had a court order to do so.
"In the ongoing situation, Twitter has remained indifferent to remove certain links despite court orders favoring the citizens of the Turkish Republic," Erdogan's office said in a statement published by the Turkish website Sabah and translated by Al Monitor. "We came to [the] conclusion that in order to relieve our citizens, there is no way left beyond blocking Twitter, which disregards court orders, does not obey the rule of law."
At a daily press briefing on Thursday, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said: "As we have previously stated, we remain very concerned by any suggestion that social media sites could be shut down. Democracies are strengthened by the diversity of public voices.
"An independent and unfettered media is an essential element of democratic, open societies, and crucial to ensuring official transparency and accountability"
As the news spread, Twitter offered users a way to bypass the ban by tweeting via text message.
Twitter users in Turkey and abroad immediately shared information on how to bypass the ban via SMS and VPN. From inside Turkey, #TwitterIsBlockedInTurkey and #DictatorErdogan began to trend within hours.
Erdogan — who is currently fighting corruption allegations and waves of anti-government protests — has made repeated threats against social media users. Memes mocking the embattled Erdogan and his latest media crackdown also circulated widely.
Former BuzzFeed World Reporter, Current BuzzFeed News Contributor
Contact Miriam Berger at email@example.com.
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