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When Fahrenheit 451 came to Turkey

The efforts of the Turkish prime minister to shut down social media bears the markings of a Ray Bradbury nightmare.
A man tries to get connected to the youtube web site with his tablet at a cafe in Istanbul March 27, 2014. The Turkish telecoms authority TIB said on Thursday it had taken an "administrative measure" against YouTube, a week after it blocked access to microblogging site Twitter. REUTERS/Osman Orsal (TURKEY - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY) - RTR3IUSP

In his 1966 classic movie based on Ray Bradbury’s novel Fahrenheit 451, legendary French director Francois Truffaut describes a world in which the fire department is called in not to extinguish fires, but to burn books wherever they are found. The struggle is between those who desperately seek to preserve books and an authoritarian state hell-bent on destroying all evidence of humanism and free thought.

I was reminded of this film this week, when Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan decided to ban first Twitter and then Youtube in the country. In a March 20 speech, he promised to eradicate Twitter and in so doing, demonstrate Turkey's power to the rest of the world. Soon thereafter, social media users in Turkey started to experience difficulties reaching Twitter. In a country that is disproportionately linked to the Internet for its level of development, these users immediately looked for ways to circumvent the restrictions, starting a cat-and-mouse game in the ether.

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