YouTube Ban in Turkey Days Before Elections

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Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan blocked the use of YouTube in the country on Thursday, just three days before local elections are to take place, and just one week after measures were taken against the use of Twitter in Turkey.

The Turkish government appears to have blocked the video-sharing site after a recording was posted on YouTube that reportedly showed government officials discussing potentially taking military action in Syria.

The TIB, the Turkish telecoms authority, said it had taken an "administrative measure" to block the site, but some in Turkey are still able to access it.

In its statement, the TIB said: "After technical analysis and legal consideration.... an administrative measure has been taken for this website."

The search engine Google, which owns YouTube, confirmed that some users were unable to access YouTube in Turkey.

"There is no technical issue on our side and we're looking into the situation," a Google Inc. spokesperson said in a statement to Reuters.

Erdogan faces an important election Sunday, and accused social media of spreading misinformation. The Prime Minister suggested earlier that bans could be applied to both YouTube and Facebook.

Measures to ban YouTube occurred Thursday, despite a court ruling Wednesday in which a Turkish court ordered the country lift the ban on Twitter that was imposed last week.

The Turkey Bar Association challenged the government ban of Twitter Monday, and on Wednesday, a court in Ankara ordered that TIB lift the ban. The Turkish deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc said of the ruling:

"We abide by the court rulings, that's what the constitution orders. We may not like them, but we abide by them. If this decision is genuine...then what TIB needs to do is obvious."

Arinc asked the TIB to abide by the court order and lift the ban on Twitter, but it could take weeks to take effect.

It was not immediately clear whether the YouTube leak was genuine.

At a rally in the south-eastern city of Diyarbakir on Thursday, Erdogan allegedly confirmed that the latest audio leak was genuine.

"They even leaked a national security meeting," Erdogan said.

"This is villainous, this is dishonesty... Who are you serving by doing audio surveillance of such an important meeting?" he continued.

Following reports of the block on YouTube in Turkey Thursday morning, the term #youtubeblockedinturkey began trending worldwide on Twitter by Thursday afternoon.

Image via Wikimedia Commons

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