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 as of Friday noon.
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 note that social media throttling has been implemented frequently following national emergencies like terror attacks to censor media coverage and permit the authorities a degree of control over narrative.
VPN tunnels have proven 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 the technique in Turkey during political incidents such as the arrest of members of parliament is unprecedented since the 2013 Gezi Park protests.