Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has blamed the violent mess in Turkey on everything but the government. He specifically cast blame on "a problem called Twitter," and police across the country subsequently arrested at least 25 people, apparently for the crime of tweeting some photos and videos of cops assaulting protesters. By doing so, Erdogan and his government have incurred the wrath of Anonymous and the Syrian Electronic Army, the notorious do-gooders and pranksters who are now claim to have brought down the prime minister's website offline Wednesday morning.
If you tried to access Erdogan's website on Wednesday, you may have noticed that it wasn't loading. We tried it a few times, and it's back now, but we experienced delays in loading the site. According to Turkey's Hurriyet Daily News, that's because the two hacking groups — SEA is most famous for hijacking the AP's Twitter feed by claiming an attack on the White House had been made — are claiming responsibility.
"Anonymous launched the operation #OpTurkey on June 2, conducting a series of attacks in response to the government's heavy-handed response to the Taksim Gezi Park protests in Istanbul and around the country," writes the team at Hurriyet, which adds that the "group managed to take down access to the Official Gazette and other sites with a hacking attempt late on June 2." And in a release, a member of Anonymous posted user names apparently attached to the prime minister's website.
Of course, that's a giant headache for a government to face, but that's more or less the digital war that Edrogan and his team are so stubbornly fighting, as the nationwide protests become a social media migraine. After stating that "social media is the biggest trouble for society right now," Edrogan has put a target on himself and his people; it looks very much like he's trying to stifle free speech on top of the violent actions of police forces. And news of those 25-plus arrests, along with more and more messages on Twitter and beyond featuring images of police violence, are lighting up social media, and that's only feeding the beast.
What isn't going make anyone else happy are reports that Facebook is reportedly blocking a tool that's helping Turkish protesters organize:
It's the subject of a massive Reddit thread, but there are reports that people in Turkey can still use the tool — and that the blocking of posts may be an anti-spam effort rather than an anti-protest effort from the social network. Erdogan said on Monday that "there is a problem called Twitter right now and you can find every kind of lie there." Unfortunately, he doesn't understand that the truth found in Twitter and social networks can be just as harmful.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.