Social media shutdowns in Turkey after ISIS releases soldier video

The Turkey Blocks monitoring network has detected and confirmed throttling of Twitter and YouTube affecting many internet users in Turkey after a new ISIS propaganda video was shared online just before midnight local time.

The incident was first observed by the Turkey Blocks probe network on fixed broadband operators Uydunet/Turksat and confirmed to also affect mobile providers Turkcell and Vodafone. Turkish internet users independently reported the access issues on domestic social networking sites within minutes of detection, and local media outlets corroborated the extent of the shutdown in the hours that followed. [1, 2]


The blocks each appear to be implemented at the ISP level, with each provider applying its own controls, hence some users may be partly or fully unaffected. While connectivity came back for some users early the next morning, the nationwide slowdowns have continued and were ongoing as of Saturday 24 December 2016.

The video depicting two Turkish soldiers burned alive by so-called Islamic State terrorists in Al-Bab, Syria has raised the ire of many Turks, who are calling for revenge against the militant group. The soldiers killed were reportedly captured a year earlier and held until the time of the filming.

New VPN blocking scheme in effect

Some users reported additional difficulty accessing VPN services to circumvent the ongoing restriction, as providers move to ban VPN and Tor services by government order. Many others were able to use their VPN connections to get online and share their experiences.

The shutdown is the second in a week, with another similar blackout following the assassination of Russia’s ambassador to Turkey in what appears to be a rapid escalation in the use of internet controls to restrict the flow of information.