A massive anti-government protest in Istanbul, prompted after days of unrest were sparked by plans to redevelop one of the last remaining central public parks, appears to have led to a throttling of social media both in the city and across Turkey. TechCrunch has independently verified via a number of sources that both Facebook and Twitter have been almost impossible to access from inside Istanbul, and other parts of Turkey. There are also anecdotal reports of authorities switching off access in a localised manner around Taksim Square where thousands of people are demonstrating.
There have been violent scenes in Istanbul, with police firing tear gas and water cannons at people demonstrating against the erection of a shopping centre in a space widely considered to be a protected civic area. The demonstration has escalated into an anti-government and anti-corruption protest against an administration that has been in power since 2002.
Our sources – drawn from the tech community – say that around 99 percent of Facebook “doesn’t load” when accessed from Istanbul.
“They throttled the bandwith to the bare minimum so that officially it’s not blocked, but it’s not loading any more… it looks like the government is reducing the speed using TTNET which is the ISP they control,” said one, who declined to be named for fear of reprisal.
Another source told us: “3G is blocked.”
Another well-placed source at a tech accelerator told us: “We had problems in connecting internet today – mostly due to people trying to access through 3G network. However around 4pm local time access to Twitter and Facebook has been blocked on local ISP (two major ones TTNet and Superonline which among two have over 90% of the land line internet access). I connected through Acevpn and saw that the problem is not my home line but TTNet blocking the access to Twitter and Facebook.”
This source said this happened at a time where the tension was at its peak when protesters were trying to get into the target “Gezi Park” area. “After 30 minutes (approximately) the police withdrew from the area and Twitter Facebook access came back,” he told us.
A spokesperson from Facebook said the company declined to specifically comment on events in Turkey; however they issued the following statement: “The Internet provides people around the world with the power to connect, to learn, and to share. It is essential to communication and to commerce, and limiting Internet access for millions of people is a matter of concern for the global community.”
Turks are using Quora to document events around the protests.