“We’ll eradicate Twitter," declared Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. "I don’t care what the international community says. Everyone will witness the power of the Turkish Republic.”
Then on Thursday at around midnight, Turkish citizens found that Twitter had been banned.
Where did this sudden need to "eliminate" Twitter actually come from?
It seems that Erdogan, who is otherwise supportive of new technologies, became adamantly opposed to social media sites like Twitter when they were used by the public to accuse him of political corruption.
For instance, recordings were spread on the internet two weeks ago which allegedly featured Erdogan telling his son to dispose of large sums of money. Erdogan was described as enraged and no doubt that was the final straw for the embattled politician.
As accusations against Erdogan are heavily featured on Twitter, it seems unsurprising in retrospect that Erdogan would take some sort of action. Especially since the site is a powerful organizational tool for those seeking to protest the government.
— Anis (@TheBlogPirate) March 21, 2014
What Erdogan failed to anticipate was the lengths that many would go to in order to get around the ban. Even now the Turkish government is working hard to crack down on the access that many have to Twitter. Though the IP-level ban has been successful at slowing access to Twitter, it has not made access impossible.
Though Erdogan claimed he does not care what the international community thinks of his actions, with the elections nearing he should care about what the people of Turkey think.
He should also be concerned that the increasingly secular Turkish public has not been happy about the direction of the government in recent years. Particularly the attempts to crack down on freedom of speech and information.
By his very actions Erdogan has done nothing more than shine a bright light on himself and made the world that much more interested in himself and whether or not the various accusations of corruption are true.
Erdogan thought he could force everyone to stop talking about him. Now, he's a matter of global discussion and if there is valid proof of corruption, it will be readily shared on a global scale.
The truth of the matter is that the Turkish Republic simply does not have the ability to stop the internet from making Erdogan look bad.
The only thing the bitter prime minster has accomplished with his behavior is making Twitter more popular in Turkey than ever. In other words, if his goal was anything other than an epic backlash, Erdogan failed miserably.
Image via YouTube