Daily Video

March 24, 2014

Turkish teen talks about circumventing his country’s Twitter block


Earlier this week, Turkey became the latest nation to try and control what its citizens see and hear online.

Prime Minister Erdogan, who is facing a barrage of corruption charges, threatened to quote “wipe out” Twitter, and then took steps to block it.

“Twitter is the only mass medium that we can get unbiased news from, it’s a significant part of our lives,” said 16-year-old Yahya Ozel, a tech-savvy Turkish citizen who has found ways around the Internet limits. “It’s one of the few places where we have our freedom of speech. “

But Twitter, like the rest of the internet, doesn’t get ‘wiped out’ very easily. Turkey’s Internet users quickly found ways to get back on it. Twitter itself sent out a simple workaround, which was relayed across the web.  Some people posted graffiti showing easy instructions how to redirect your computer around the censors.

Ozel is using a VPN, or Virtual Private Network, which allows his computer to appear as though it is located somewhere other than Turkey.

“They change your virtual location, so right now I’m ‘in Virginia’,” where Twitter works just fine, he said.

Warm up questions
  1. What part of our constitution protects the right to free speech?
  2. Does that protection also include free speech on the internet?
  3. Do all nations have the same protection of free speech? Can you think of any that don’t?
Discussion questions
  1. How does not having protected free speech affect the democratic process?
  2. Why do you think the Turkish government decided to block Twitter? Were they effective?
Writing prompts
  1. How has the advent of social media changed how we get our information and how we analyze or discuss it?
  2. What are the risks and benefits of guaranteeing freedom of speech to everyone?
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