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Turkey's farcical Twitter ban leads to SPIKE in tweets

Tech-savvy Turks turn to TOR, VPNs et al to fight ban

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

The volume of messages sent Turkish Twitter users may have grown by over 130 per cent as users turn to a range of workarounds to circumvent a government banimposed late last week

The ban initially appeared to come in the form of a DNS redirect from the country’s ISPs.

This took users to a statement explaining that Twitter is blocked because it failed to comply with court orders requesting the take-down of content,which PM Tayyip Erdogan has claimed was intended to smear his government ahead of key elections.

Protestors hit back by daubing the numbers 8.8.8.8 and 8.8.4.4 on government election posters. These Google Domain Name System addresses could help users in the country circumvent the ban for a time.

The government soon shut down that backdoor and ordered the blocking of Twitter by IP address.

However, this has also been circumvented by the widespread use of VPNs.

One such app, Hotspot Shield, saw downloads jump from an average of 10,000 daily to 270,000 in just 12 hours, according to the Wall Street Journal.

HootSuite apparently said that traffic tripled and sign-ups jumped 300 per cent on Friday as users sought alternative ways to use Twitter.

Rights group the Electronic Frontier Foundation recommended users download the Tor Browser Bundle to bypass the block.

Even Twitter itself got in on the act, tweeting its users the numbers they can use to SMS their tweets.

All of the above has combined to make Erdogan’s heavy-handed Twitter ban one of the most unsuccessful acts of censorship El Reg can remember.

Immediately following the ban late on Thursday research from digital agencies WeAreSocial and Brandwatch reported a 138 per cent spike in Twitter usage in Turkey.

Netizens have also been quick to use the interwebs to satirise the incident.

One image depicts Erdogan in the classic Obama campaign poster with the phrase “Yes we ban!” beneath, while another shows the under fire PM covered in droppings as a flock of Twitter birds flies above.

At this rate the ban may not last for too much longer.

Turkish president and former Erdogan ally Abdullah Gul took, appropriately enough, to Twitter to argue that the censorship was "unacceptable" and that he hoped it "would not last long". And Twitter itself has Tweeted that it's working to restore access to the service as soon as is possible. ®

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