Political censorship is alive and well in countries throughout the world.
In 2014, Reporters Without Borders designated 19 countries as “enemies of the internet” for actions ranging from Britain’s distributed denial of service attack against Anonymous to North Korea having building its own internal internet and walling its citizens off from the global web.
However, despite the “enemies of the internet” moniker, only six countries actively block social media networks around the world, as shown by the following graphic from Dadaviz.
Of the six countries, Turkey is the largest exception. Opposed to the other five countries, Turkey is both a NATO member and a hopeful applicant to the European Union. Turkey is also a functioning democracy, a fact which makes its total blockage of social media all the more concerning.
However, also unlike the other countries, Turkey’s banning of social media is not a constantly enforced law. Instead, Turkey selectively enforces bans of social media based upon the current environment. The latest social media ban, which is starting to be lifted, was put in place after a Marxist terrorist organisation that held hostage a state prosecutor started to distribute images of the crisis online.
The hostage situation ended with the death of the prosecutor. Turkey’s government said that the republishing of the image was akin to supporting terrorism and that, as social media did not limit the distribution of the image, the sites had to be shuttered.
In March 2014, Turkey previously banned Twitter in the face of government corruption scandals. Ankara had also blocked YouTube for 30 months after a video insulting the founder of modern Turkey was uploaded to the site.
However, despite the bans, North Korea is the only country listed that is entirely closed off from social media. Although the other countries have bans in place, users can use VPNs to reroute their internet traffic and access websites that have been blocked.
North Korea, however, has effectively created their own internal internet that does that not connect to the wider worldwide web.
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