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Is Twitter giving in to Turkish censorship?

Turkish cyber rights activists warn Twitter of legal action for acting as auxiliary to Ankara’s censorship machine.
A Twitter logo on an iPhone display is pictured next to a Turkish flag in this photo illustration taken in Istanbul March 21, 2014. Turkey's courts have blocked access to Twitter a little over a week before elections as Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan battles a corruption scandal that has seen social media awash with alleged evidence of government wrongdoing. The ban came hours after a defiant Erdogan, on the campaign trail ahead of key March 30 local elections, vowed to "wipe out" Twitter and said he did not

In March 2014, two Turkish academics — Kerem Altiparmak and Yaman Akdeniz — led the legal fight at the Constitutional Court that secured the lifting of Ankara’s ban on Twitter. Less than a year on, the pair’s quest against Internet censorship has taken a new turn. They are now mulling legal action against Twitter itself, in the United States, as the company draws mounting criticism for collaborating with Ankara’s censorship machine.

Twitter’s own statistics illustrate how its compliance with Turkish restrictions has increased at a time when Ankara faces growing international condemnation for gagging free speech. According to the company’s transparency report for the second half of 2014, released Feb. 9, Turkey topped the list of countries seeking content removal, sending Twitter a total of 477 court rulings and government agency requests, an increase of more than 150% from the first half of the year and five times more than the runner-up, Russia. Twitter withheld content in relation to 50% of Turkish demands, up from 30% in the first half of 2014 and 0% in 2013. Overall, 62 of the 85 accounts and 1,820 of the 1,982 tweets Twitter withheld were from Turkey.

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