Today, Twitter instituted countrywide blocks in Turkey on three accounts, which Turkish courts had ruled were in violation of the country's laws. The three accounts (two of which used the same "Haramzadeler" monkier) played a major role in leaking incriminating details about government corruption. In March, the struggle over those accounts led to a wholesale crackdown on Twitter, which was later lifted. Now, the government has settled for simply blocking the accounts for Twitter users registered as Turkish.
On its public policy account, Twitter was quick to emphasize that it complies with all court orders from local governments, and that all the private user data for the accounts was still protected.
Reminder: Our Country Withheld Content policy means we act after due process, e.g., a court order. Our policy is here http://t.co/9GiL75YfhY— Policy (@policy) April 19, 2014
We don't withhold content at the mere request of a gov't official and we may appeal a court order when it threatens freedom of expression.— Policy (@policy) April 19, 2014
Twitter has not provided and will not provide user information to Turkish authorities without valid legal process.— Policy (@policy) April 19, 2014
The block is also not as sticky as it might seem. The people behind the usernames can easily start new accounts, but even if they don't, it's remarkably easy for Turkish users to bypass the block. Twitter's system for blocking the accounts isn't IP-based, and bypassing it is as simple as changing your "country setting" to somewhere other than Turkey. It's a trick that's been circulating since 2011, and one many Turks are likely already familiar with. The result is a diplomatic compromise for both Twitter and the Turkish government. The accounts are officially blocked, letting the regime save face, but any new leaks from the accounts should still easily circulate through the network. As with the earlier block, keeping the accounts locked out of the conversation is harder than it sounds.