After Banning Twitter, Turkey Now Blocks YouTube

Prime Minister Erdogan has lashed out at social media ahead of Sunday's elections in Turkey.
Prime Minister Erdogan has lashed out at social media ahead of Sunday's elections in Turkey.
 Getty Images

Turkey ordered Internet service providers to take YouTube offline on Thursday after a leaked audio tape uploaded to the site purporting to be a recording of security chiefs discussing military action in neighboring Syria caused a national security scare.

The blanket block on the site comes a day after a Turkish court ordered the country's conservative government to lift its ban on short-messaging service Twitter, in place since last week. 

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So far, the YouTube ban seems to have been as ineffective as Turkey's attempt to block Twitter. "It is working just fine," said a Turkish film industry professional and frequent YouTube user reached in Istanbul Thursday evening. "I even listened to the 'tapes.'"

Some users, however, have found their access to the site blocked. Turkey's telecom authority said it had taken an "administrative measure" against the site.

Google, which owns the video-sharing service, later said that it was looking into reports that users were unable to access YouTube. It added that there were "no technical issue" on its side.

The suspension of YouTube's service came within hours of the audio file being uploaded. Turkish media claimed the file was a recording of a security meeting where top government, military and intelligence officials discussed scenarios for military action to intervene in Syria's ongoing civil war. Telephone, mobile and internet providers were told by the government to block users accessing YouTube immediately, Turkish newspaper Hurriyet reported.

Sources in the prime minister's office later said the ban would be lifted if YouTube removed the Syria content. Urgent discussions with the video service were underway, according to news agency reports.

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Turkey's foreign minister dubbed the audio file leak a "vile attack" and evidence of "espionage." It added that it was "natural practice" by security services to discuss how best to protect the state but that some parts of the conversation uploaded on YouTube had been "distorted."

Social media has come under attack in Turkey in recent weeks as political tensions rise ahead of Sunday's key regional elections. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has vowed to "eradicate" Twitter and has lashed out at YouTube and Facebook as threats to the country's security. The current anti-social media campaign ignited when Twitter and other sites posted audio tapes in which Erdogan appears to tell his son to hide money to avoid a graft investigation. Erdogan claimed the tapes had been doctored as part of a smear campaign against him.

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