Attempted coup in Turkey results in social media clampdown

turkey coup social media turkish flag daniel snelson flickr
Daniel Snelson/Flickr (used under Creative Commons)
Turkey saw a widespread social media blackout on Friday during an attempted coup by the country’s military.

According to internet monitoring group Turkey Blocks, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube were all temporarily down in the country. Live-streaming services such as Twitter’s Periscope, and Facebook Live reportedly continued to operate.

Twitter responded to the reports from its official policy account, tweeting that it wasn’t down but had instead seen a suspicious drop in its traffic. “We have no reason to think we’ve been fully blocked in #Turkey, but we suspect there is an intentional slowing of our traffic in country,” the social network wrote in its post, which was also retweeted by CEO Jack Dorsey.

Turkey’s military said on Friday that it had seized power, but Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan claimed the intervention would be put down, reports Reuters. A statement from the military on Turkish state television claimed that a “peace council” is now running the country, and that a curfew and martial law has been enforced. Tanks have reportedly been placed outside Istanbul airport, and all flights have been cancelled. Traffic has also been blocked on both the Bosphorus and Fatih Sultan Mehmet bridges in Istanbul.

Turkey’s democratic government — now under siege — has been using the internet, and social media services it previously throttled to urge citizens to protest against the coup. Erdogan conducted a television interview with CNN Turk via FaceTime, with the presenter holding up an iPhone to the cameras in order to broadcast his message. In his statement to the country, Erdogan called on the Turkish people to “convene at public squares and airports” to protest the coup. CNN Turk has since reportedly been forced off the air by military forces, but continues to broadcast using Facebook Live. Turkey’s EU Minister Ömer Çelik has tweeted several statements condemning the coup, and urging people to “defend our democracy.”

Twitter has become a vital source of information from Turkey, with 1.85 million tweets on the topic. Twitter’s Periscope was also used by officials within Parliament to broadcast scenes from within the building as it was reportedly shelled or bombed.

This is a continuing story, and we will update it as further news emerges.

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