Posts Tagged ‘Twitter’

Censorship the elephant in the room as Twitter courts Chinese firms at CES Asia in Shanghai

May 26, 2015


By James Griffiths
South China Morning Post

A senior Twitter executive laid out the company’s benefits to Chinese businesses looking to connect with a global audience at a talk in Shanghai that ignored restrictions placed on the service in China.

Opening the second day of the inaugural Consumer Electronics Show (CES) Asia, Twitter vice president of Asia Pacific, Latin America and emerging markets Shailesh Rao gave a keynote speech squarely aimed at Chinese firms in attendance.

“Twitter can help Chinese companies and organisations reach world audiences,” Rao said.

“You have the power to … reach people with shared interests anywhere in the world.”

The unspoken exception to that global reach is mainland China, where Twitter has been blocked since 2009.

In an interview with the South China Morning Post in March, Peter Greenberger, Twitter’s sales director for emerging markets, said the company was targeting “big [Chinese] advertisers looking to reach overseas”.

This goal was clear in Rao’s speech, which served as something of an introduction to Twitter for Chinese business leaders perhaps less familiar with the service than their foreign counterparts.

Twitter was inaccessible during CES Asia. It has been blocked in mainland China since 2009. Photo: James Griffiths

Twitter, which also has a booth in the main CES Asia conference hall, is completely inaccessible for attendees who do not use a virtual private network (VPN) to bypass internet restrictions, something which has become significantly more difficult in mainland China since the beginning of this year.

While Rao did not reference the fact that Twitter was blocked in China, the country was noticeably absent from slides discussing global participation in conversations around events such as the football World Cup or the Sochi Winter Olympics.

Speaking at the opening of Twitter’s Hong Kong office earlier this year, Greenberger said that it was not the firm’s intention to re-enter the mainland Chinese market, where it would face stiff competition from domestic social media platforms even if the government ban was lifted.

Instead, Twitter aims to become a tool for Chinese businesses that are already engaged with local audiences on social media to build similar followings overseas.

DON’T MISS: At CES Asia expo, tech gurus lay out vision for ‘internet of things’

“Our ideal customer is someone who is advertising on Weibo and wants to do the same for an international audience,” Greenberger said.

Rao mentioned Alibaba, Air China and Xiaomi as three examples of Chinese companies which are using Twitter to build their brands overseas.

“We’re seeing Chinese companies extend to reach audiences around the world [and] Twitter can be … the bridge to do that,” he said.

One sector which has embraced Twitter, as well as fellow blocked-in-China service Facebook, is Chinese state media. State news agency Xinhua, major newspapers including the People’s Daily and Global Times, and broadcaster CCTV all have active Twitter accounts on which they publish content in multiple languages.

ISIS ‘claims responsibility’ after two gunmen ‘carrying explosives’ killed in attack on anti-Islam art contest near Dallas

May 4, 2015



Attack: The suspects’ bodies are seen next to their vehicle as it is searched for explosives at the anti-Muslim event. Two men got out the vehicle and opened fire, wounding a security guard in the leg, before they were shot dead by police

ISIS supporters claimed on Twitter that one of the gunmen was a man calling himself Shariah Is Light on the social media site, but police have yet to formally identify the culprits

ISIS supporters claimed on Twitter that one of the gunmen was a man calling himself Shariah Is Light on the social media site, but police have yet to formally identify the culprits


— Two suspects were gunned down after shooting the guard in the leg outside the Curtis Culwell Center in Garland
Building and surrounding area was placed on lockdown by a SWAT team with around 100 attendees still inside
— Reports suggest the pair were carrying explosives as they approached the building in the Dallas suburb
— Garland Mayor Douglas Athas said the second suspect was shot as he turned to reach for his backpack
— The American Freedom Defense Initiative event offered a $10,000 prize for the best caricature of the prophet
Involved a keynote speech from far-right Dutch politician Geert Wilders, who has linked the Koran to terrorism
ISIS fighter claimed on Twitter that the shooting was carried out by two pro-ISIS individuals

Isis has claimed responsibility for an attack on an anti-Islam art contest in Texas in which an unarmed security guard was blasted in the ankle by fire from automatic rifles and the suspects shot dead by police.

Two heavily-armed men suspected to have been carrying explosives were killed by police after opening fire outside the Curtis Culwell Center in Garland, Dallas, at around 7pm during an controversial event where caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad were being displayed.

The SITE Intelligence Group reported that an Islamic State (IS) fighter claimed on Twitter that the shooting was carried out by two pro-Isis individuals.

In a series of tweets and links, a jihadist named as Abu Hussain AlBritani, which SITE said was British IS fighter Junaid Hussain, claimed that ‘2 of our brothers just opened fire’ at the Prophet Muhammad exhibition in Texas.

‘They Thought They Was Safe In Texas From The Soldiers of The Islamic State,’ added the tweet.

Other Isis supporters claimed on Twitter that one of the gunmen was a man calling himself Shariah Is Light on the social media site, using the account name @atawaakul, according to New York Times reporter Rukmini Callimachi.

He had posted a message earlier that said ‘the bro with me and myself have given bay’ah [oath] to Amirul Mu’mineen [ISIS leader Al Baghdadi]. May Allah accept us as mujahideen #texasattack‘.

However, Ms Callimachi pointed out that it’s not even known at this point if the attackers are Muslim. The Shariah is Light account has now been suspended.

One of the suspects, after being initially wounded by police gunfire, was seen reaching for a backpack and was shot again and killed, Garland Mayor Douglas Athas later told CNN.

The building and surrounding area was placed on lockdown by SWAT teams with around 100 attendees still inside after multiple gunshots were heard.

FBI bomb squad robots were then sent in to check the suspects’ vehicle, as the two bodies of the gunmen, who have not yet been identified, lay on the road beside it.

The bodies were not immediately taken from the scene because they were too close to the car, which police feared had incendiary devices inside.

Shortly before midnight police alerted media that a strong electronic pulse would be activated near the scene, presumably as part of the bomb squad’s work, and a loud boom was heard moments later, though police did not comment further on what was done.

A contest offering a top prize of $10,000 for the best portrayal of the prophet was just minutes from finishing when the shootout unfolded.

The event had been condemned by critics as an attack on Islam, but the organizers insisted they were exercising free speech.

Some Twitter users began posting about the shooting on the event using a #JeSuisGarland hashtag, mirroring the #JesuisCharlie hashtag that became popular after January’s jihadist attacks in France which saw gunmen kill 12 people in the Paris offices of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in revenge for its cartoons.

After the shooting no one was allowed to leave as nearby businesses, including a Wal-Mart and a Sam’s Club, were evacuated.

Those inside started to sing patriotic songs, including the national anthem and God Bless America, and said a prayer for the injured security guard after one woman pulled out an American flag form her bag.

The two suspects pulled up in a vehicle with with explosives, before getting out and firing at a security officer, identified as 57-year-old Bruce Joiner, who was employed by the independent school district and wearing a ‘police-style uniform’.

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A police officer stands next to the pickup truck, not the suspect's vehicle, outside the Curtis Culwell Center in Garland, Texas. Two suspects were shot dead after opening fire near the 'Draw Muhammad' event

A police officer stands next to the pickup truck, not the suspect’s vehicle, outside the Curtis Culwell Center in Garland, Texas. Two suspects were shot dead after opening fire near the ‘Draw Muhammad’ event

The event had been condemned by critics as an attack on Islam, but the organizers insisted they were exercising free speech

The event had been condemned by critics as an attack on Islam, but the organizers insisted they were exercising free speech

The two men are said to have gotten out of a vehicle nearby, walked into the parking lot and opened fire on Sunday evening. The exhibition inside involved a competition with a $10,000 prize for the best caricature of Muhammad 

The two men are said to have gotten out of a vehicle nearby, walked into the parking lot and opened fire on Sunday evening. The exhibition inside involved a competition with a $10,000 prize for the best caricature of Muhammad

Internet problems in China blamed on malware from overseas servers

May 1, 2015

A hacking attack using malware from overseas servers was to blame for Internet problems in China earlier this week that prevented users accessing a number of popular foreign websites, an official state-run newspaper said on Friday.

Social media users first reported on Sunday that they were being sent to software website and travel website when trying to access news websites like, news portal, and games website, among others.


The incident was the latest in a series of challenges businesses and individuals have faced going online in the world’s second-largest economy.

The English-language China Daily, citing the National Computer Network Emergency Response Technical Team Coordination Centre, an agency that monitors China’s Internet safety, said the redirection happened because some servers in China were “contaminated” by malware from overseas servers.

Access to the internet — both speed and stability — have long been a major issue especially among foreign businesses and individuals. Internet services operated by Facebook, Google and Twitter, to name a few, are unusable in China. The country operates the world’s most sophisticated censorship mechanism in order to quell sources of information the Communist Party sees as potentially destabilizing or undermining its rule.


— Reuters

China Frees 5 Women’s Rights Activists After Month Detention

April 14, 2015



China’s jailed women’s rights activists: Clockwise from top left: Li Tingting, Wu Rongrong, Zheng Churan, Wei Tingting, Wang Man. They have been detained by Chinese authorities.

The Associated Press

BEIJING — Chinese authorities have released five women’s rights campaigners whose detentions for more than a month sparked an international outcry and underscored the government’s tight restrictions on independent social activism.

The women were freed Monday under a form of conditional release that keeps the investigation open for another year and allows formal charges to be brought later, said Liang Xiaojun, a lawyer for one of them.

The activists, aged from 25 to 32, were known for colorful protests that included “potty parity” sit-ins and street theater to denounce spousal abuse, and their detentions brought international calls for their release, including from the United States, Britain and the European Union.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said China should “support them, not silence them” in their fight against sexual harassment and other injustices toward women, and #FreeTheFive became a popular Twitter hashtag.

Human rights activists said the release was driven by Beijing’s desire to avoid marring its reputation on women’s rights and creating a public relations disaster, especially ahead of a September commemoration of a key women’s rights summit held in Beijing in 1995.

Amnesty International Regional Director for East Asia Nicholas Bequelin said he had no doubt the release resulted from a political and diplomatic decision at a senior level.

“It shows that China does have a bottom line when it comes to embarrassment on the world stage,” Bequelin told The Associated Press. “There’s a price that China is not ready to pay to enforce its prohibition on independent organizing.”

As of late Monday night, all five had either returned or were on their way to their homes in Beijing and elsewhere in China, including the southern metropolis of Guangzhou and the eastern resort city of Hangzhou. Calls to the Haidian District Detention Center in western Beijing, where they had been held, rang unanswered.

Other lawyers could not be reached by phone, but posted messages on social media saying their clients had been freed.

An anti-discrimination group working with the activists, the Beijing Yirenping Center, said in a statement that continuing to treat the women as criminal suspects was “neither legal nor reasonable.” Late last month, Beijing police raided the center’s office and confiscated computers and financial documents.

“They deserve public recognition and rewards,” center co-founder Lu Jun wrote of their activism. “The arrest and detention of them is a glaring injustice.”

In a statement, Amnesty International called the women’s release an “encouraging breakthrough” but “an incomplete step.” It said China must end the investigation and exonerate the five.

The European Union also urged authorities to drop the investigation of the women.

Hong Lei, spokesman for China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, confirmed Tuesday that the activists were released on bail. He said the matter was dealt with in accordance with Chinese law.

“It is part of China’s sovereignty for the Chinese judicial authority to observe and enforce the law and to fight crime,” Hong said. “That is a principle a country under the rule of law must stick to.”

Under the conditions of their release, the five remain formally under investigation for the next year and must report their movements to police and be available for interrogation at any time. They are also barred from discussing the case among themselves or gathering as a group, lawyer Wang Qiushi said.

The women — Wang Man, Zheng Churan, Wu Rongrong, Wei Tingting and Li Tingting — were detained last month as they prepared to distribute posters and stickers against domestic violence on International Women’s Day on March 8. They were accused of creating a disturbance and, if convicted, could have been sentenced to up to three years in prison. Five others detained at the same time were released earlier.

China’s Communist Party-led government maintains tight restrictions on all forms of public protest, and campaigners say conditions for independent activists have grown increasingly harsh under President Xi Jinping.

While the government has commented little on the case, it appeared that the women’s detentions were linked more to their penchant for media-friendly street actions than their advocacy of women’s rights.

In 2012, the activists briefly took over public men’s restrooms in Beijing and other cities to demand more women’s facilities. That year, Li and two other women strolled down a busy Beijing shopping street wearing bloody wedding dresses to denounce domestic violence.

Amnesty’s Bequelin said that, given the case’s high profile, he expects police to keep a close eye on the five. The legal restrictions on them will likely be sufficient to “if not silence, then considerably mute their voice,” he said.

Along with the international outcry, Bequelin said the fact that the women made no political demands helped their cause, along with the weakness of the accusations against them.

“It helped that they hadn’t actually committed any wrongdoing,” he said.


Associated Press writers Jack Chang and Didi Tang contributed to this report.


‘#WhyI’mnotvotingforHillary’ hashtag tops Twitter

April 13, 2015

Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign announcement was not met with the positive response her team would have been hoping for

By , US Correspondent

The Telegraph

A social media backlash began against Hillary Clinton on Sunday night after the former secretary of state announced her run for the White House.

“#Why Im not voting for Hillary” quickly became the most talked about subject on Twitter in the US in the hours after Mrs Clinton released a video asking for the public’s backing for her 2016 bid to become the America’s first-ever female president.

While many declared their support for the wife of former US president Bill Clinton, a wave of users began using the hashtag giving their reasons for why they would not be voting for the Democratic candidate.

Many criticised her response to the deadly 2012 attack on the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya, which left four Americans dead, including the ambassador, Christopher Stevens.

Includes video

Hillary Clinton during a hearing on the September attacks on US diplomatic sites in Benghazi (Photo: Jason Reed/Reuters)

Sara Teague wrote: #WhyImNotVotingForHillary #Benghazi proved her incompetence and disregard for American lives. Email scandal shows she’s “above the law”

Others cited her apparent lack of transparency, particularly over her use of a private email server during her time in office. It emerged last month Mrs Clinton deleted 30,000 of the emails, which she described as private correspondence.

No true American should need anymore reasons than this one.

Four solid reasons

The hashtag was started by 19-year-old Markeece Young from North Carolina, who describes himself on his Twitter account as a former Democrat-turned-Conservative.

“Well when I heard Hillary was announcing her campaign on Twitter I came up with the Idea to create ‪#‎WhyImNotVotingForHillary‬ it’s simple but very powerful,” he wrote. “It was the #1 trending hashtag in America for about 3 hours.”

Anti-Hillary graffiti also popped up in the New York borough of Brooklyn, where Mrs Clinton’s campaign headquarters will be based.

A poster placed in front of Hillary Clinton’s HQ in Brooklyn, New York (AP)

The street art features portraits of the presidential hopeful alongside phrases including “Don’t Say Secretive”,”Don’t Say Entitled”.

Mrs Clinton made waves before she had even taken up residence.

A group of Haitian protesters – who have accused the Clinton Foundation of stealing money intended for rebuilding their country after the 2010 earthquake – last week gathered outside her building, chanting: “Do we want Clinton for president? Hell no.”

Because of her global profile and the lack of other prominent Democrats in the field, Mrs Clinton enters the race in a position that is perhaps unmatched in modern US presidential politics.

Her tweet announcing her candidacy notched almost 90,000 retweets by the end of the day on Sunday, her campaign video more than 1 million views on YouTube, and her Facebook campaign page almost 500,000 likes.

Impressive, marketing strategists say, although she did create one or two chinks for Republicans to chisel at.

Her 138-second campaign video featured everyday Americans discussing milestones such as starting a business or having a baby, with Mrs Clinton first appearing a full 90 seconds in. It broke a million views on Facebook by Sunday evening.

“It’s less ‘me’ and more ‘us’, which I think is very smart,” said Marissa Gluck, a director at marketing firm Huge.

That’s a really “big difference in tone, ego and professionalism compared to rollout videos from Rand Paul and (Ted) Cruz,” said Josh Cook, a former Obama digital director and vice president of digital engagement for the political consulting firm, BerlinRosen, referring to Republican presidential hopefuls.

But Republicans pushed back hard and fast.

Republican presidential contender Ted Cruz of Texas responded to the “ready for Hillary” message in a crudely cut video asking if Americans wanted “a third Obama term.”

A Google search for “Hillary Clinton for President” resulted in an ad for Hillary’s campaign page, but just below it was an ad for “Pledge to Stop Hillary,” a Republican-created petition.


FILE PHOTO NYC PAPERS OUT; Social media use restricted to low res file, max 184 x 128 pixels and 72 dpi


Pictured: Hillary Clinton, then U.S. Secretary of State, discusses with then China’s Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi at a news conference in Beijing Sept. 5, 2012. Hillary Clinton never made any strong statements of U.S. concern over China’s moves in the South China Sea. Today, China controls several islands in the South China Sea that were uninhabited before the Obama Administration. Today some of the best U.S. allies in Asia like the Philippines and Japan are greatly concerned by China’s rapid rise during the Clinton-Obama years. Photo: AP/Feng Li, Pool

Hillary Clinton and Vladimir Putin. After this photo was taken, Mr. Putin annexed Crimea and “invaded” eastern Ukraine.

Those were fun times, weren’t they?  U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, right, and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov press a red button symbolizing the intention to “reset” U.S.-Russian relations during their meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, Friday, March 6, 2009. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton left her post as U.S. Secretary of State with a Russia in military resurgence. The butten meant “reset to the Cold war” wor Putin’s Moscow government. (AP Photo)

‘Huge gaps’ in Clinton emails: Chairman of House Benghazi Committee

Islamic State militants pose threat to all Southeast Asian Nations

April 7, 2015

Radical group is enticing Muslim youngsters to join, and a Thai student may be among them.


The threats posed by the group are not just limited to brutal killings, but also the recruitment of new members, specifically through social media.

“It is not too much to say a radical movement operating in the Middle East is one of the products of the US invasion and it is unpredictable how the crisis will end,” the expert on Islam, Jaran Maluleem, said, referring to the IS.

Citizens from many countries, including nations in Southeast Asia, have travelled to Syria via Turkey to join the IS.

Some were stopped by authorities as they made their way to Syria but many have succeeded in joining the militant group.

Mr Jaran said a key tool the IS uses to recruit youngsters is the idea of a caliphate, which is a form of Islamic government.

The group’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, has declared himself to be the spiritual successor to Mohammed, also known as a caliph.

The caliph is empowered to run the territory’s administrative and religious affairs.

The idea of a caliphate was abolished after the fall of the Ottoman Empire.

According to Mr Jaran, the influence of the militant group among young people also poses a threat to the Association of Southeast Asia Nations (Asean).

The regional grouping’s members need to address the recruitment of youngsters, he said.

Indonesia’s Vice President Jusuf Kalla speaks at the opening of a conference on terrorism and Islamic State in Jakarta, March 23. (Reuters photo)
Mr Jaran said there are unconfirmed reports that a Thai student who studied in the Middle East recently joined the IS.

Even though the student is from southern Thailand, the possibility of the IS getting involved in the fighting in the deep South or other countries in Asean is still low, Mr Jaran said.
However, due to the large Muslim population in the region, authorities should look out for IS propaganda used to attract young Muslims to the group.

“We cannot rule out the prospect that the IS has its eyes on Southeast Asia, especially in Indonesia which has the highest number of Muslims in the world,” he said.

“But the overall situation in the Asean area is a long way off from descending into violence,” Mr Jaran said.

He admitted the number of people joining the radical group is on the rise, particularly youngsters.

He said militant groups in Asean, such as Jemaah Islamiah (JI), have offered moral support to IS in their fight against the US, but there is no proof to suggest any JI members have joined the IS.

“Most of the people who join IS are likely to be anxious, depressed and lonely.
“They are more likely to be socially isolated and many are fond of the IS ideology but hesitate to express their feelings in public,” Mr Jaran said.

A senior Asean diplomat told the Bangkok Post that dozens of people from her country were stopped from joining the IS in the Middle East last year but she could not estimate how many had successfully joined…

The IS threatens security in the region and Asean members should discuss ways to stop the possibility of conflict, she said, adding the actions of the group are unacceptable under Islamic practice.

“Talking about IS, it is about terrorism, it is about people who claim they are Muslims but they are not.

“They might be Muslims, we don’t know, but we do not recognise them,” the diplomat said.

“What religion do they belong to? They cannot do such cruel things. The word Islam means peace and what they do is against the fundamentals of Islam,” she said.

The group’s propaganda machine involves releasing videos of hostages being brutally murdered which forces the international community to react with outrage.

Taking into account the group’s oil trading and other money-making schemes means IS could be the wealthiest and most powerful militant group in the Middle East.

After splitting from al-Qaeda, the IS has been active mainly in parts of Iraq and Syria, with an estimated 30,000 members.

The IS militants recruit new members by using social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter to show the successes they have enjoyed as they took over large parts of Iraq and Syria.

The ideology of the group attracts Muslims from across the world.

The group also uses social media to strike fear into the hearts of its enemies by uploading gruesome murders of its hostages.

The IS claims the brutal killings of its hostages were acts of revenge against the US and its allies.

After the IS executed two foreign hostages earlier this year, the US-led coalition launched a series of air strikes against the group’s strongholds in Iraq and Syria.

However, Mr Jaran said coalition air strikes are not the way to defeat the militant group.

“Defeating IS will not end the militant movement because many Muslim groups are still loyal to the group and share the same ideology.

“Even if the IS disappears, another group will lead the movement in its place,” he said.

The IS and other militant groups are the consequence of the US-led invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq after the Sept 11, 2001, attacks in the US.

Asean members should not get involved in the conflict.

They should continue to promote regional peace, Mr Jaran said.



Turkey’s latest social media ban smacks of electoral censorship, critics say

April 6, 2015


Turkish authorities have blocked social media websites over images of a prosecutor who was killed during a hostage standoff last week. Critics say it’s yet another censorship move in the run-up to elections in June.
Turkey blocked access to social media services such as Twitter and YouTube on Monday.
Presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said a prosecutor had sought to block the sites because media organizations had acted “as if they were spreading terrorist propaganda” in sharing images of prosecutor Mehmet Selim Kiraz, who was held at gunpoint and later killed by militants on March 31.Users had shared these images on social media platforms like Twitter.
In addition to blocking these networks, Turkey has also blocked 166 URLs – specific websites – most of which link to news articles.It’s not the first time Turkish authorities have cracked down social media sites – Erdogan blocked Twitter before holding local elections in March 2014.

“The demand from the prosecutor’s office is that this image not be used anywhere in electronic platforms,” spokesperson Kalin said at a news conference in Ankara.

“A request has been made to both Twitter and YouTube for the removal of the images and posts but they have not accepted it and no response has been given. That’s why this decision has been taken through a court in Istanbul,” the spokesperson added.

An Egyptian-British blogger, however, had already complained on Saturday that Twitter blocked her tweet about Kiraz – Nervana Mahmoud had shared the picture of the prosecutor held hostage, but made a point condemning any form of violence.

Militants took Istanbul prosecutor Mehmet Selim Kiraz hostage at the end of March

Latest move to tighten controls

The social media ban is the latest move to tighten controls in Turkey – right after the prosecutor was taken hostage, the prime minister’s office had issued a gag order on media organizations.

Media watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) had criticized “the quickly-imposed ban on media coverage” on Thursday.

“This is nothing less than censorship and the fact it has become commonplace is especially disturbing when it is the government that increasingly assumes the responsibility for imposing it. By so doing, it is trampling on the public’s right to be informed about a subject of general interest,” Johann Bihr, head of RSF’s Eastern Europe and Central Asia desk, said in a statement.

“In Turkey, every sensitive affair is now the subject of a publishing ban,” he added.

“There’s too much power given to the prosecutors and courts at the moment to censor any content,” said Efe Kerem Sozeri, a Turkish researcher and opposition activist based in Amsterdam.

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has consistently pushed the “image of the very powerful, ruthless man,” Sozeri said. The ban on distributing photos of the prosecutor held hostage was a move to uphold this tough stance, according to Sozeri.

Turkey speeds up the process

Sozeri told DW he has collected more than 300 court orders that ban multiple tweets or Twitter accounts in Turkey. “Turkish courts have even increased the speed to ban more Twitter accounts and statuses,” he said. According to his notes, in 2014, more than 70 Twitter accounts and more than 2000 tweets were blocked.

Laptop with YouTube screen (photo: BULENT KILIC/AFP/Getty Images)

It’s not the first time Turkish authorities have blocked Internet sites

Turkey’s controversial Internet law makes it possible to block entire social media sites, Sozeri said. “If a court says that blocking one URL address is not enough, if that doesn’t prevent the crime itself, then a court can give reasoning – seeing that blocking one URL is not enough, we need to block the whole domain – then the court can block the whole domain.”

It’s just the latest censorship move by Turkish authorities – over the weekend, Cumhuriyet daily reported 58 well-known figures in Turkey were probed for criticizing government-run press Anadolu Agency on Twitter. And according to Hurriyet Daily News, a journalist from a local daily in southeastern Turkey received a suspended prison sentence for liking a Facebook post criticizing Erdogan.

“What these remarks are about Anadolu agency is that (it) is basically turning into a government mouthpiece instead of being an independent news agency,” Sozeri said.

“This is where the freedom of speech in Turkey is. Any critical remark, even if it’s based on real facts, you are not able to say that, because the interpretation of the law is given to those courts who are under the strong influence of the justice ministry.”

New bill to fast-track crackdowns

Erdogan and his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) have put measures in place to fast-track Internet crackdowns. Turkey’s parliament approved a security bill that also includes greater powers to police the Internet “which will allow any minister to block any website,” Sozeri said. “And the homeland security bill is also already ratified, which basically criminalizes any demonstration in the public space. So these are the pressures that we will face in the next two months.”

This view is echoed by the International Press Institute that states in its recently published report: “As Turkey approaches June 2015 parliamentary elections, it does so amid an overall erosion in respect for human rights, including free expression and media freedom. Unfortunately, absent a fundamental change in attitude and behavior by those in power, the corresponding weakening of democracy, a cycle which appears to both sustain and increase itself daily, has no immediate end in sight.”

“I am rather pessimistic about this,” Sozeri said. “But if we leave this to Erdogan – what we can say and what we cannot say – then we can’t really say anything other than ‘Erdogan is the best’ or ‘Erdogan is doing the best thing for Turkey’ which is not exactly true. But this is what Erdogan and the party wants us to do, by trying to silence us. This is what they aim for, the public opinion.”


Turkish Court Restricts Access to Internet Sites Over Hostage-Crisis Content

April 6, 2015


Blackout comes after Twitter and Google among others failed to takedown material

 A man attempts to access YouTube after an Istanbul court's ban decision in Istanbul, Turkey Monday.   
A man attempts to access YouTube after an Istanbul court’s ban decision in Istanbul, Turkey Monday. Photo: European Pressphoto Agency
By Emre Peker and Sam Schechner
The Wall Street Journal

ISTANBUL—A Turkish court banned access to Twitter Inc. and Google Inc.’s YouTube for failing to remove content related to a deadly hostage crisis last week, marking the second time in a year that the social-media platforms have been blocked after getting mired in Turkey’s political turmoil.

The blackout comes after an Istanbul court ordered the two U.S. companies, as well as Facebook Inc. and dozens of other local and foreign websites, to take down images, voice and videos recordings linked to the hostage crisis, threatening a blanket ban for noncompliance.

The Ankara-based Internet Service Providers’ Association, which represents all operators in Turkey, distributed the court order to its members Monday, said a company representative, who declined to be identified because the person wasn’t authorized to speak about legal matters.

Turkish Internet users were reporting blackouts and skirting the ban by using virtual-private networks, or VPNs, that obscure the country of access to allow the use of the social-media platforms. A blanket ban on Facebook has been lifted, Turkey’s top regulator told Hurriyet newspaper.

“We are aware of reports of interruption of our service in Turkey, and we are working to restore access for our users as soon as possible,” Twitter’s global public policy team said in a tweet Monday.

A Facebook spokesman said Monday that the company had received a “valid court order” in Turkey to “restrict access to certain content or our service would be blocked.” The spokesman said Facebook has complied with the order, but is appealing it.

“We are seeing reports that YouTube is blocked in Turkey and we’re working to restore the service for users as soon as possible,” a spokesman for Google said.

Aside from social-media platforms, the decision also covers websites of leading Turkish outlets Hurriyet and NTV news channel, local opposition newspapers Cumhuriyet and Sozcu, as well as U.K. newspaper the Independent and Australia’s top-ranking news website, the person familiar with the court order said.

The Istanbul court’s decision comes after the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front, or DHKP-C, killed a prosecutor overseeing a high-profile, politically charged case last Tuesday.

During the half-day standoff between two members of the terrorist-listed organization and security forces, the DHKP-C published photos on social-media of Prosecutor Mehmet Selim Kiraz with a gun to his head and the Marxist-Leninist outfit’s yellow-starred red flags in the background. The pictures were widely distributed and some newspapers printed them on their cover, prompting a strong backlash from the government and prosecutors.

“It is not acceptable for certain media organizations that must act with the responsibilities of being the press to publish these photos, as if they were engaged in terrorism propaganda,” Turkish presidency Spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said Monday, shortly after the bans came into effect. He said “any blocking of access is out of the question” despite the start of blackouts on Twitter and YouTube, adding that he had heard of the developments shortly before his news conference.

The court ordered the removal of Mr. Kiraz’s photos and videos, and blocking of related links where content removal wasn’t possible. Barring both options, the websites should be banned entirely, the court said.

“These broadcasts have been shared as propaganda for the armed terrorist organization DHKP-C,” the decision said, adding that their publication also endangered public safety. Last year’s Twitter and YouTube bans were based on national security.

—Yeliz Candemir contributed to this article.

Write to Emre Peker at

Chinese have no need for websites blocked by Great Firewall — “Beijing will tell you everything you need to know”

March 26, 2015


If Beijing is successful in its bid for the 2022 Winter Olympics then foreigners who attend will get uncensored internet access, but this isn’t an issue for Chinese who “don’t like” sites like Facebook and Twitter, an official said on Wednesday.

China keeps a tight rein on its internet. The government has warned that social media, particularly foreign services, could be a destabilising force for Chinese society or even affect the country’s security.

Popular foreign social media sites like Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and Facebook as well as Google’s main search engine and Gmail service are all inaccessible in China without specialised software to vault what is known as the “Great Firewall”.

China had committed to providing media with the same freedom to report on the 2008 Beijing summer Olympics as they enjoyed at previous Games.

But when the main press centre opened, journalists complained of finding access to sites deemed sensitive to China’s communist leadership blocked. A senior International Olympic Committee (IOC) official later admitted that some IOC officials cut a deal to let China block sensitive websites.

Wang Hui, spokeswoman for the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games Bid Committee, told a news briefing that China was an open country committed to having an open internet.

“Everyone always brings up Facebook and Twitter, but people around me don’t like to use it,” Wang said, when asked whether foreign visitors would access uncensored Internet access if the city won the 2022 Games.

“With our Weibo and WeChat, China’s 650 million [web users] can freely use these tools to exchange and receive information,” she said, referring to wildly popular Chinese social media tools which are subject to often quite strict government censorship.

“If you gave these [Facebook and Twitter] to me, I would not use them. I like using Weibo and WeChat.”

Foreign visitors, including the press, spectators or athletes, would get open internet access in 2022, Wang added, without explaining how exactly this would work.

“Without a doubt, 2022 will be even more open than 2008.”

Despite being blocked in China, Beijing 2022 organisers have set up official Facebook pages and Twitter accounts, aimed at a foreign audience, though to little apparent effect.

The Beijing 2022 Twitter account, which sent its first tweet in early November, is only followed by some 550 people. Its official Facebook page has attracted just over 400 likes since it was sent up at about the same time.

An IOC evaluation team is in China this week, and the final decision on who gets the Games will be made in July. The only other city bidding is Kazakhstan’s Almaty.

China’s Great Firewall — And Poisoning Internet Attacks From China

March 1, 2015

By Adam Pasick

Software designer Craig Hockenberry noticed something very strange was happening to his small corporate website The Iconfactory one morning last month: traffic had suddenly spiked to extremely high levels—equivalent to more than double the amount of data transmitted when Kim Kardashian’s naked photos were published last year.

The reason, he quickly discovered, was that China’s Great Firewall—the elaborate machinery that China’s government uses to censor the internet—was redirecting enormous amounts of bogus traffic to his site, which designs online icons, quickly swamping his servers.

“When I looked at the server traffic, there was only one thing I could say,” he wrote on his blog. “Holy shit.”

Hockenberry was only the latest unfortunate site administrator to experience an ugly side effect of the Great Firewall, known as DNS poisoning. A brief explainer: When you type a URL into your web browser, it is converted into a numeric IP address by a domain name server (DNS). Often these are run by internet service providers or companies like Google, but in China they are run by the government—specifically the Ministry of State Security, which is responsible for operating the Great Firewall (often referred to as the GFW).

When a Chinese internet user attempts to visit a banned site such as Facebook, Google, or Twitter, the GFW reroutes the request. For a long time it sent users to non-existent IP addresses, but lately, for reasons unknown, it has been sending them to seemingly random sites like Iconfactory, which are quickly debilitated by the massive inflow of data.

The surge to Hockenberry’s site on Jan. 20 preceded a major internet disruption in China on Jan. 21 that was conclusively caused by GWF DNS poisoning, according to, a group that fights Chinese internet censorship. Much of the internet was inaccessible to Chinese users for several hours as most of the country’s web requests—equivalent to hundreds of thousands per second—were redirected to a single IP address, used by Dynamic Internet Technology, a small US company that helps users circumvent the GFW. The company’s president speculated that DNS rerouting was not an intentional attack on his company, but rather the result of human error.

Other website administrators have reported similar incidents in the past. According to Greatfire, Chinese users attempting to access banned sites have been redirected to foreign porn sites, random sites in Russia, and to a site owned by the South Korean government. “In essence, GFW is sending Chinese users to DDOS the Korea government’s website,” the group wrote. DDOS stands for distributed denial of service, and is a common type of attack by hackers trying to take down a website by flooding it with traffic from virus-infested computers under their control.

Hockenberry concluded: “Every machine in China has the potential be a part of a massive DDOS attack on innocent sites. As my colleague Sean quipped, ‘They have weaponized their entire population.’”

Art by Nemu Asakura


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