Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and WhatsApp shutdown in Turkey

The TurkeyBlocks monitoring network has detected restrictions on access to multiple social media services Facebook, Twitter and YouTube throughout Turkey beginning Friday Nov 04 2016 1:20AM local time, ongoing through into Friday afternoon.

Restrictions on messaging services WhatsApp, Skype and Instagram have also now been detected, validating widespread user complaints about WhatsApp service failure in Turkey – the first time nationwide restrictions have been detected on the popular messaging apps in recent years.

The incident is believed to be related to the detention of multiple leaders of opposition political party HDP, accompanied by raids of the HDP headquarters in Ankara.

TurkeyBlocks monitoring probes have identified throttling at the ISP level as the source of slowdowns, with the majority of internet users affected at the time of measurement. The shutdown was first detected on national provider TTNet, Turkcell and subsequently on other major ISPs, with users of UyduNet and other smaller providers not yet affected at the time of writing.

Internet restrictions are increasingly being used in Turkey to suppress media coverage of political incidents, a form of censorship deployed at short notice to prevent civil unrest.

Earlier in the week, a full internet shutdown was observed cutting off millions in Turkey’s southeast, reportedly preventing the supply of medical supplies to patients and crippling infrastructure.

Analysts believe that social media throttling, implemented frequently following national emergencies like terror attacks, has effectively censored media coverage and may have permitted the authorities a degree of control over narrative during their immediate aftermath.

Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım later confirmed on 4 November that the internet connection slowdowns experienced throughout Turkey were part of “security measures” taken by the government.

VPN tunnels have proven in past to be an effective means of circumvention for users determined to work around network throttling, which slows down and effectively blocks services on fixed lines and mobile devices. Usage of mass internet censorship in Turkey during political incidents is unprecedented since the 2013 Gezi protests and 2014 leaked phone conversation recordings.