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Coup-Tube: Turkey blocks social networks amid military takeover

Quick, man the VPNs!

By Shaun Nichols, 15 Jul 2016

Access to YouTube, Facebook and Twitter is blocked in Turkey tonight amid an ongoing attempted military coup in the NATO nation. The cyber-blockade has failed to prevent pictures from the unfolding uprising spilling onto the internet, though.

An intervention by a faction of the country's armed forces is underway right now as military leaders try to overthrow the government of President Tayyip Erdoğan. Both sides claim to be holding power.

Low-flying jets and helicopters continue to buzz the capital Ankara as Turkish soldiers block bridges and roll tanks through neighborhoods. The country's military is secular and sees itself as a defender of the people from despotic rule: its ranks are filled by laymen for whom service is compulsory. Its commanders have been at loggerheads with the staunchly Islamist Erdoğan for years, we're told.

Tonight, that tension exploded onto the streets. In a statement read on air by the state broadcaster, the Turkish military announced it had taken over the government and imposed martial law. A curfew is also in place. Minutes later, Erdoğan appeared on CNN via Facetime urging people to protest on the streets, adding: "This [attempt] was done from outside the chain of command. Those who are responsible, we will give them the necessary punishment."

Meanwhile, monitoring group Turkey Blocks says a number of social networking services are inaccessible in the country, although people are able to get onto Twitter and other sites to share photos and video of the unrest via VPNs. There is also evidence of internet access being throttled, presumably to prevent the spread of information and dissent.

Turkey usually has no problem blocking the internet to its citizens. Strangely, though, this time its president has turned to Twitter to get his messages out there to the people. ®

Updated to add

It appears the military enforced the social networking blackout, which was lifted by the president. The attempt coup ultimately failed, resulting in a tough crackdown on 50,000 citizens by the government.

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