It’s not much of a surprise any more, and if you speak to any Turkish people it’s becoming pretty routine.  The Turkish Government is imposing a variety of measure against popular social and sharing websites.  Mostly this is throttling access at the ISP which makes them unusable and messing with the DNS tables in order to make them inaccessible.  This month Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Skype, YouTube and Instagram have all been affected at some point.

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Mostly it’s the larger ISPs which have been used for this control, so Tech savvy Turks usually try and use the smaller ones such as UyduNet.   So what’s the problem this time?  Well November 2016 has seen the arrest of several elected members of the People’s Democratic Party (HDP) plus Erdogan has orders the raid of the group’s headquarters.  The group is well known for being both on the political left and supporters of the Kurds.  The Turkish government will normally hit the social media sites at these points in order to help restrict the flow of information and to prevent protests.

The scale seems to be increasing though, as in some areas there was actually a full internet shutdown not just the social media sites.    Several million people lost all internet access for almost 12 hours, a practice that would be unthinkable in proper democracies.  Most Turks though have become skilled in avoiding most of these restrictions partly because they are usually fairly easy to circumvent.

Turkey often uses DNS spoofing to restrict access, a fairly outdated censorship technique.  This involves modifying the DNS records of these popular sites so that uses get redirected to other sites (often a Government server).  It’s simple to implement but easy to bypass in fact many Turkish people already use other servers abroad in order to bypass the blocks or indeed lots use US DNS Netflix solutions which also bypass the filters.

These involve routing your connection through different locations depending on the DNS request, it’s an alternative to using a VPN and allows people to access websites normally blocked by region like Netflix, BBC and Hulu.

Access to the internet is increasingly becoming politicized and subject to the whims of extreme groups.  The children’s game Minecraft widely used as a teaching aid in many developed countries was almost banned by the Family and Social Policies Ministry in Turkey, their claim was it advocates brutality against children.  This comes in a country who have just backed down on a bill which would have allowed men to escape jail for having sex with underage girls if they married them – the stories here and fortunately the bill has been modified.