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Earlier today, Twitter was blocked in Turkey to prevent the spread of an upsetting photograph. The ban was lifted only hours later, after Twitter deleted accounts and removed all occurrences of the photo. YouTube has also been, and remains, blocked in Turkey. Google is still in talks with Turkish officials in an attempt to restore YouTube service in that country. Facebook has complied with the Turkish court order and has not been blocked, but says it will appeal the order.

The photograph in question was of an Istanbul prosecutor being held at gunpoint by far-left militant organization known as the DHKP-C, which was taken just hours before he was killed. A judge imposed a ban on the image because some media organizations were allegedly using it as terrorist propaganda.

There is concern that the court order may be too broad and far-reaching. While some organizations may have been involved in actual terrorist propaganda, some would suggest that the image has a place in legitimate reporting on the issue. A complete ban of the photograph across all electronic media may have gone too far.

Turkey has become increasingly notorious for blocking content on social media. Twitter and YouTube were temporarily blocked in March 2014, after the leak of audio recordings that allegedly proved corruption of Erdogan, who was Prime Minister of Turkey at the time. In another example, Turkey has forced Facebook to block any content with is deemed to be offensive to Islam.

According to data revealed by Twitter in February, Turkey issued five times the number of content removal requests of any other country, in the second half of 2014. This is no doubt related to a law passed in Turkey last year which allowed the government to block content more easily. However, blocking content so broadly is having a detrimental effect on free speech in Turkey.

Do you think Turkey was right to block the images in this case? Leave your comments below.

Max Michael

Senior Writer

I’m a technology reporter located near the Innovation District of Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario.