Turks on back foot over Twitter

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is finding his war on Twitter is proving to be his Gallipoli.

Erdoğan’s “war on Twitter” started as a plan to stop people talking about a government corruption scandal which was proving embarrassing.

After pledging to “wipe out Twitter,” he ordered Turkish ISPs to block the social networking site, redirecting requests to a government webpage.

However that was quickly circumvented by Twitter users through the use of alternative DNS servers.

Now the government has ordering ISPs to block traffic to the Internet Protocol (IP) addresses assigned to Twitter. This move essentially erases Twitter from the internet within Turkey.

Twitter is now only available to those who do not have access to SMS messaging, a foreign virtual private network or Web proxy service, or the Tor anonymsing network. In other words, despite Erdoğan’s best efforts, Twitter is still open to anyone who still wants it.

To make matters worse, the social media campaign against Erdoğan has continued to grow as ordinary Turks get jolly cross at his censorship antics.

Immediately following the ban, Twitter usage in Turkey rose 138 percent, so rather than fewer reading about Erdoğan’s corruption scandal, more people are.

Now Erdoğan has ordered his cyber warriors to start attacking DNS providers in a bid to keep Turks inside their own restricted internet.

According to the Internet activist collective Telecomix, there also were reports that devices configured to use Google’s DNS service or other DNS providers outside the country were being hijacked to a local DNS server by the Wi-Fi network at Istanbul’s airport.

Business is booming for VPN services and the Tor anonymising network in Turkey. Telecomix has been providing a list of Tor gateways for Turkish users. Tor network metrics show a huge spike in users directly connecting to the Tor network over the past few days, growing from 25,000 users to 35,000 since March 19.

Downloads of VPN software have also exploded with VPN apps for Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android becoming the most downloaded apps from their respective app stores in Turkey.