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Turkish citizens find way around social media blocks

Though the Twitter ban in Turkey was recently lifted, citizens are taking steps to prepare themselves if a similar one takes place.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has recently drawn criticism for his stance on Internet freedom throughout much of the country. Frustrations started to manifest themselves in spring of last year during the Gezi Park protests in Istanbul, and continued since.

Recently, the Prime Minister called for the resignation of numerous government and police officials amid charges of corruption in the country. On top of this, leaks were recently released that implicated the prime minister himself in the corruption scandal, though he has denied any involvement, saying the Internet leaks were fabricated.

Implementing bans
Twitter and YouTube were the chosen method to disseminate these implicating leaks, which prompted the Prime Minister to try and ban these tools. The Turkish government recently passed a law that would allow the telecommunications authority to ban websites without a court order.

The Prime Minister Erdogan recently used this law to ban Twitter in the aftermath of the leaks and leading up to the recent local elections in the country. This was to the outrage of many netizens in the country as well as the company itself. As a result, Twitter appealed the ban to the country's Constitutional Court, and got the ban lifted, along with another similar on on YouTube, according to the BBC.

While the ban on these sources, this didn't stop Erdogan from criticizing the court's ruling.

"I don't find it right and patriotic that the Constitutional Court has adopted such a decision," he reportedly said. "While they are protecting an American company, our national and moral values are being disregarded."

Preparing for future
While the ban has been struck down, this hasn't stopped Turkish citizens from preparing for similar bans in the future. Bloomberg reported that numerous citizens around the country have been downloading software that is designed to bypass these blocks.

More than 1 million Turkish citizens have downloaded the Hotspot Shield program which is designed to disguise a user's online activity by saying it is coming from another country. With these kinds of government actions growing more frequent these programs are becoming a necessity if people want to continue to use social media like Twitter.

False or not, Erdogan's response to these leaks should not come in the form of an outright ban of social media as it is a integral part of what cyberspace can provide to commerce and social interactions.

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