Following the explosion in İstanbul on 13 November the Turkish Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK) announced a reporting ban on the topic.
According to the real-time London-based NetBlocks which monitors internet freedom, RTÜK and the court placed restrictions on social media and communications platforms Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and some Telegram servers from Sunday afternoon until the morning of Monday 14 November.
⚠️ Confirmed: Live network data show that social media platforms Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Facebook have been restricted in #Turkey after a deadly explosion in #Taksim, Istanbul; authorities issued a broadcast ban following the incident
— NetBlocks (@netblocks) November 13, 2022
As Turkey states that the ban is “to avoid broadcasts that may create fear, panic and turmoil in society and may serve the purposes of terrorist organisations”, Netblocks pointed out that Turkey has a longstanding policy of restricting access to social media platforms following explosions, political incidents and terror attacks.
Meanwhile, the recently approved disinformation law, under which creating anxiety, fear or panic among the public will face a 1- to 3-year prison sentence, has enabled further efforts by Turkey’s government to control the country’s press.
Netblocks founder Alp Toker tweeted, “#Turkey should end its policy of social media blackouts (and platforms should carefully moderate) during crises”.
Kerem Altıparmak, a legal expert on human rights said “The whole world is talking about the explosion right now, except for Turkey. Because we have a broadcast ban, a communications block. If this is not enough, criminal investigations are being initiated against writers and illustrators. The whole world may write about Turkey, but the citizens of the Republic of Turkey may not write about it, or hear about what is written”.
Many social media users in Turkey have activated VPN services in order to access social media platforms.
At least six people died and 81 were injured in the explosion that took place on Istiklal avenue, in the centre of Turkey’s largest city Istanbul on Sunday.