Several high-profile social networking and messaging services were shut down in Turkey on Friday amid an attempted military coup.
Facebook (FB), YouTube (GOOG), and Twitter (TWTR) were reportedly offline, according to Turkey Blocks, an organization that monitors social networking and messaging services in Turkey. It’s worth noting that it was only certain social networking and messaging services that went offline in Turkey, not the entire Internet.
The Turkish government often imposes a media ban during periods of political crises that includes blocking access to social media sites and services. The purpose is to prevent potentially damaging news reports on the country that could hurt its image and help opponents organize.
CTV News said that Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube were blocked for two hours following the initial military coup in the Turkey and have yet to come online. However, other reports and tweets seem to indicate that some people in Turkey are able to access some social networking and messaging services.
Twitter’s Periscope video service appears to be working as well for some users.
A YouTube spokesperson told Fortune, “We are aware of reports that YouTube is down in Turkey, however, systems seem to be functioning normally.”
Facebook declined to comment on the news.
Twitter just released a statement via a tweet:
Meanwhile Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has issued a statement via the video streaming service FaceTime in an undisclosed location. Erdoğan condemned the military uprising and reportedly said that military opponents that are part of the uprising would “pay a heavy price,” the Financial Times reported.
Doug Madory, director of Internet analysis at web-monitoring company Dyn, said Dyn noticed that Internet traffic to Facebook and Twitter within Turkey “slowed to a crawl” and rendered the sites inaccessible. Dyn did not spot any problems with YouTube, but Madory said Dyn has “also seen others report problems accessing that website.”
Madory also said in an email to Fortune that Turkey’s methods for blocking access to social media sites and services have gotten more sophisticated over the years. Turkey used to block so-called DNS queries to websites the country wanted to prevent citizens from accessing, which led to citizens using “public DNS services like Google DNS” to bypass the government’s censorship techniques. This time, however, Turkey “appears to be restricting bandwidth when accessing social media,” which “represents a more sophisticated censorship technique that is harder to detect.”
He added that some tech-savvy Turkish citizens could bypass the censorship techniques through using a so-called virtual private network, which provides an encrypted network that prevents unwanted parties from spying on communications.
“Users should still be able to circumvent it using a VPN, but the average user in Turkey may still not have that technology readily available despite a history of Internet censorship in Turkey,” Madory said.
This is a developing story