Turkey's Latest Social Media Block And How To Bypass It

Today, the Turkish government blocked access to Twitter, Youtube and Facebook, allegedly over the publication of images of a Turkish prosecutor that was taken hostage last week. The blocking also comes two months ahead of the June elections in Turkey, when the 550 members of the Grand National Assembly will be elected. The order was signed by a Republic Prosecutor and is currently being delivered to the various Turkish ISPs.

The new social media block happened about a year after the Turkish government blocked Twitter and YouTube when audio recordings related to prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan were circulating on the platforms. A court later ordered the unblocking of the two services.

However, the prime minister has made known that he will try to block them completely in the future. Turkey has tightened up its censorship laws, making it easier for the government to request online services to take down certain content from their pages. Recently, Facebook also had to comply with a court order that demanded it take down a page that allegedly contained content offensive to Prophet Muhammad.

According to sources in Turkey, Facebook has once again agreed to censor the requested material this time, and the ban on the social media site has already been lifted.

Twitter's Policy account posted that its service is currently blocked in Turkey.

It seems that just like last year, the services are being blocked at the DNS level, which means the block can be easily bypassed by changing the DNS settings in the web users' PCs.

The most common DNS addresses last year were Google's 8.8.8.8 and 8.8.4.4 addresses, due to their simplicity. People in Turkey posted them everywhere during the Twitter and YouTube ban, and they even painted them on walls. However, this only lasted a few days, as the government found a way to block the two DNS addresses. This is why it's a little strange that the current order to block three of the largest social media sites can be just as easily bypassed by Google's DNS addresses.

If the two Google addresses get blocked once again, there are other DNS addresses people in Turkey can use to bypass the block such as the ones from OpenDNS, OpenNIC, BlockAid and other similar DNS services. The more technically literate could even set up their own DNS servers with DNSChain, an anti-censorship and security-focused DNS server software based on blockchain technology.

Another alternative solution people can use is Tor, the browser that can bypass not only censorship but also mass surveillance.

All of these are more or less short term solutions until the government can figure out how to ban all of them in the future. Although it may never succeed completely, it should be possible to make them inaccessible to the vast majority of people. It's also possible that, just like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube will also begin fully complying with all the censorship requests by the Turkish government, which could be almost as bad as a complete ban.

Ultimately, the Turkish citizens may want to start using decentralized alternatives to current centralized social media or video websites, such as GNUSocial (Twitter alternative), MediaGoblin (YouTube/Flickr alternative) and Diaspora (Facebook alternative). All three are federated services, which means multiple people can host the software and content on their servers. To ban certain images or messages, each one of those servers would have to be blocked, which makes a complete ban much harder.

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  • Huseyin Yazici
    For know, the management try to block google... I Cry for our elder's stupidity...
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