One of Turkey’s most popular social media websites has been removed from mobile application distribution platforms in another attempt to prevent its readers from accessing it after facing an access ban from the country’s telecommunications authority last year, Turkish Minute reported, citing the T24 news website.
Ekşi Sözlük, where users can anonymously post and discuss messages on any subject, has been facing online censorship since February, when Turkey was hit by two powerful earthquakes that claimed more than 50,000 lives.
Turkey’s Telecommunications Authority (BTK) imposed an access ban on the platform’s main website, eksisozluk.com, in February for the “protection of national security and public order” due to messages on the platform criticizing Turkey’s lack of earthquake preparedness and what many said was the government’s poor response to it.
When the platform switched to alternative websites to circumvent the ban, they also faced access bans.
Ekşi Sözlük has now also been made inaccessible through the mobile application distribution platforms such as Apple’s App Store and Google’s Google Play.
İstanbul Bilgi University law school faculty member Prof. Dr. Yaman Akdeniz, an expert in IT law and a cyber rights activist, said in a series of tweets at the time that the decision to ban access to Ekşi Sözlük was “final” and that it might take two to three years to lift it again.
This was not the first time the government has blocked access to popular social media platforms. Twitter, YouTube and Facebook have all been subjected to restrictions. Twitter was blocked in the wake of the devastating earthquakes on February 6 after the government criticized disinformation on the platform.
Turkey, where internet freedom has steadily declined over the past decade, ranks among the “not free” countries concerning online freedoms, according to a report released by the US-based nonprofit Freedom House in October.