Turkey is blocking access to Twitter in the run-up to a heated election that has seen social media become a battleground for pro- and anti-government factions. The Hürriyet Daily News reports that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pledged to eliminate access to the service entirely after tweets were published linking him to corruption. "We now have a court order. We'll eradicate Twitter," Erdoğan said at a campaign rally, according to the publication. "I don't care what the international community says. Everyone will witness the power of the Turkish Republic."
The prime minister's office subsequently released a statement saying Twitter had ignored court rulings requiring the company to take down posts deemed inflammatory. Twitter says it is "looking into" the issue. In the meantime, the company's policy team encouraged Turkish citizens (in both English and Turkish) to continue tweeting using SMS.
Turkish users: you can send Tweets using SMS. Avea and Vodafone text START to 2444. Turkcell text START to 2555.— Policy (@policy) March 20, 2014
Turkey has frequently sought to block social media sites when they have been used to post criticism of the ruling party. Last year, Erdoğan referred to social media sites as "the worst menace to society." Those comments came in the wake of riots stemming from an urban redevelopment plan, which were powerfully documented across Facebook and Twitter. Those sites went down temporarily during the clashes, though it was unclear whether that had been orchestrated by the government.
Update: A Turkish official has clarified to Reuters that, for the time being, no action will be taken against other social media sites. "The path was taken to block access within the framework of a court decision because of the failure to overcome the problem with the management of Twitter," the official told Reuters. "At the moment there is no such decision for other social media like Facebook."