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Access to popular social media sites such as Twitter and YouTube has been shut down in Turkey, following a court ruling today.
The ban on accessing Twitter and YouTube comes just days after Istanbul prosecutor Mehmet Selim Kiraz died from his injuries, after security forces stormed the office where he was being kept hostage by members of the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C).
Disturbing photographs of the prosecutor with a gun held against his head had earlier been posted on social media sites, including the group’s Facebook page.
In the interests of decency, I have redacted the image below.
It is reported that for a short while Turkish users were also blocked from accessing Facebook earlier today.
The DHKP-C targeted Mehmet Kiraz because of his involvement in the investigation into the death of 15-year-old Berkin Elvan, who was injured during anti-government protests in June 2013. Taking Kiraz hostage, the group demanded via its website and social media that police “confessed” to their involvement in the teenager’s death, and be prosecuted.
So, it’s against that background of unrest and heightened tension that a court has decided to block access to the Twitter and YouTube websites, according to a source in Turkey’s telecoms industry who spoke to the Reuters news agency.
Which probably leaves you with something of a quandary if you are visiting or living in Turkey, and wish to access some of the world’s most popular websites.
My advice? Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to try to waltz around any bans that your internet provider may have put in place to control where you go to on the web, and allow you unhindered access to censored websites and services.
If you run a VPN on your desktop computer, laptop or smartphone, you are creating a secure tunnel with the websites you are visiting. That means your your internet communications are encrypted, hidden from others who might be snooping on what you’re saying or what websites you are visiting.
In fact, even if you are not in Turkey right now (or one of the other countries which likes to keep a tight hold on where its citizens might be visiting on the net) it’s a very good idea to run a VPN to enhance your security, particularly if you are in the habit of using public WiFi access points or connecting to someone else’s network.
VPN services are affordable, and provide a high level of security. There really isn’t any excuse these days for people not to use them.
The events in Turkey are clearly ghastly, and no right thinking person would want to see such grisly content shared online. But the reaction should not be to block sites like Twitter and YouTube in their entirety.
Author Graham Cluley, We Live Security