Turkey has blocked Twitter just two days after deadly earthquakes when many people still rely on the platform for rescue efforts, according to internet monitor Netblocks.
Twitter access in Turkey was restricted as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan condemned the criticism of the government’s response to catastrophic earthquakes that killed more than 16,000 people in Turkey and Syria.
Network data confirmed Twitter was blocked on multiple providers in Turkey on Wednesday, according to Netblocks.
“The filtering is applied on major internet providers and comes as the public come to rely on the service in the aftermath of a series of deadly earthquakes,” the internet monitor said on Twitter.
Hours later, access was restored after authorities held a video call with the company’s representatives to remind Twitter of its “responsibilities” on content moderation and disinformation.
“We expect Twitter to cooperate more with Turkey in the fight against disinformation,” Deputy Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Omer Fatih Sayan tweeted afterward.
He said Turkey also expected Twitter to take swift action against fake accounts and content that could damage public order and security.
The government’s move to block the platform has drawn criticism from the opposition, non-governmental organizations, and public figures, who pointed out that much of the rescue effort was coordinated on Twitter.
According to Netblocks, restrictions could be circumvented by using VPN services, which popularity spiked in Turkey during the Twitter block.
Many Turks have flocked to the platform to look for their loved ones and coordinate help. In some instances, people were pulled alive from the rubble via coordination on Twitter.
Turkey has a history of restricting social media in emergencies, frequently citing national security and disinformation prevention.
The latest restrictions come as regions affected by earthquakes are experiencing internet connectivity due to infrastructure damage.
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