Circumventing the Turkish Twitter crackdown

BY Hari Sreenivasan  March 22, 2014 at 8:17 PM EST

How are people coping with their Twitter being turned off in Turkey? We spoke with a 16 year old in Istanbul who admits it has become more difficult but he has found a way around it, as have many of his peers.

#twitterisblockedinturkey has been “trending” depending on who you follow over the past couple of days thanks to a significant push by the Turkish Prime Minister to block the social media service which spreads information quickly. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan made this speech:

And then Erdogan began blocking access. He has also threatened to block other social media including Facebook and YouTube, possibly to stem videos like this audio recording allegedly between the Prime Minister and his son, that critics say is proof of corruption. Erdogan denies the allegations and the authenticity of the illegal recording.

Users and activists quickly switched to alternate Domain Name Servers to access the service. Word of the method spread quickly:

It was scrawled on the side of buildings.

Kuşun ötsün #TwitterisblockedinTurkey #TwitteriYedirmeyiz #eyytwitterdedirtmeyiz #TurkeyBlockedTwitter #DictatorErdogan #twitter #yasak #yassak

It was splashed on posters.

According to Yahya Ozel, alternate DNS servers are now actively being blocked by the government so he and his peers have switched to Virtual Private Network or VPN software which allows his computer to access another machine elsewhere in the world. So as he points out in our interview, while he is in Istanbul, his computer continues to access all that the Internet has to offer from Virginia.