Turkey orders media blackout as Facebook and Twitter 'blocked'

Turkey has banned coverage of yesterday’s (10 October) blast at a peace rally with social media networks Facebook and Twitter blocked by the country’s media watchdog.

The temporary ban comes in the wake of a suicide bombing in the Turkish capital of Ankara. It happened at a peace rally for the end to violence between the Turkish government and the PKK, a militant group that wants a separate state for the Kurdish ethnic minority group. But those rallying for peace fell victim to violence themselves.

At least 95 have been killed and 300 injured by the blast, which had been filmed by those protesters recording it on their smartphones. Consequently, state media watchdog the Turkish Supreme Board of Radio and Television (RTUK) imposed a ban on broadcasting images of the attack.

In a statement RTUK said: “The Turkish Prime Minister has imposed a temporary broadcast ban regarding the terror attack conducted in Ankara this morning.”

A government spokesperson is also quoted as saying that the blackout covers images showing the moment of the blast and “create a feeling of panic”.

Following the attack, many people in Ankara were reportedly unable to access Twitter and other social media networks, although it was not clear whether officials had blocked them too.

Ugurcan Taspinar, a news editor at Turkish tech site Techno Today told The Verge that access to email is limited and that both Facebook and Twitter can’t be accessed from his location. The Turkish government has restricted social media access following attacks in the past, including a suicide bomb earlier this summer.

Last year, the government blocked Twitter and YouTube after they were used to spread audio recordings implicating the then prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his closest allies of an alleged corruption scandal.

Social media bans, alongside the frequent media blackouts the country has imposed during sensitive events, has sparked repeated accusations of censorship. In April, the country green lit legislation to give the government power to block websites without prior judicial authorisation.

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