Turkey Has Tried To Censor Twitter More Than All Other Countries Put Together

Turkey’s government accounted for more than half of all requests to block Twitter content in the second half of last year, official figures show.

Following the country’s removal of their blanket ban of the social media site in April last year, Twitter’s latest transparency report shows Turkey made requests to block 477 pieces of content from 1 July to 31 December.

This accounts for more than half of the total 796 requests made worldwide.

twitter stats statistics statista
Infographic supplied by Statista

The country’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has made it clear in the past he doesn’t like Twitter, vowing to “eradicate” it in March 2014 and branding it a “menace”.

This is largely because social media makes it easy to criticise the government, which Erdogan has never been a fan of. YouTube was also blocked in the run-up to the 2014 elections as audio recordings alleging people close to the President had been involved with corruption began to surface online.

Twitter objected to around 70% of the country’s requests on human rights and freedom of speech grounds, but the claims were shot down in Turkish courts. Fearing another total ban, Twitter caved in and agreed to honour 50% of Turkey’s requests, removing or censoring 1,820 tweets and 62 accounts.

Russia, which has a long and storied history of censoring the media, came in second. Having made 91 requests for Twitter to block certain tweets or accounts, they maintain their reputation as an Enemy of the Internet. Twitter complied with 13% of these requests.

putin erdogan

“All these hashtags are so bloody annoying, Vlad. What is a ‘mention’ anyway?”

“Requests ranged from promotion of illegal drugs to attempts to suppress non-violent demonstrations. While we had a compliance rate of 13 per cent, we denied several requests to silence popular critics of the Russian government and other demands to limit speech about non-violent demonstrations in Ukraine,” Twitter said.

Germany came in third, although the majority of the 43 requests were for alleged hateful and discriminatory content, resulting in 37% of requests being honoured.

The USA came in fifth, filing 32 censorship requests, but none were obliged by Twitter.

The UK followed in seventh with 22, but again none were upheld.


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