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Turkey blocks Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp after arrest of opposition leaders

Turkey has blocked access to a number of leading social media and messaging platforms, including Facebook, WhatsApp, and Twitter.

The country’s renewed clampdown on the digital communication outlets comes in the wake of the arrests of opposition politicians belonging to Turkey’s main pro-Kurdish party.

Internet monitoring tool Turkey Blocks reported the outages at 1am local time on Friday, starting with Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. Less than an hour later, it also confirmed Facebook-owned messaging service WhatsApp had been blocked. Despite Turkey’s troubled relationship with social media, the crackdown marks the first time in recent years that WhatsApp has been targeted. Additionally, Turkey Blocks also noted restrictions on Skype and Instagram, indicating a large-scale blackout of social platforms.

It is thought that some in the country are still managing to get on to the services using virtual private networks (VPN) or proxies.

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In the past, Turkey has restricted social media during a crisis or emergency, such as the attempted coup in July and after the violent attack on Istanbul’s Atatürk Airport.

Following the spate of arrests on Friday, demonstrations are expected to take place in the country, with the U.S. State Department urging travelers to avoid Ataturk Park and Inonu Park in Adana, a city located in southern Turkey.

Earlier in the week, reports surfaced claiming of a complete internet blackout in southeast Turkey that was believed to have affected approximately six million people.

Last month, Turkey’s government blocked document sharing sites Dropbox, GitHub, Microsoft OneDrive, and Google Drive in a bid to circumvent the spread of leaked emails linked to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his son-in-law.

Erdogan’s targeting of opposition leaders has drawn the ire of the international community who believe his government is still using the failed coup as an excuse to quash opponents and stamp out dissent. Turkey has remained under a state of emergency since the incident took place in July.