Twitter is reportedly bowing to pressure from the current regime in Turkey, to expand its censorship of journalists, even those with verified accounts. Although the tech giant has a long-standing history of championing free speech across the globe, the recent coup attempt is said to have changed all that.
According to a report by the Daily Dot, if Twitter fails to comply with the Erdogan-led Turkey government's censorship requests to squash out dissidents, it may eventually face a nationwide ban. The threat of a ban appears to have led to Twitter censoring the accounts of journalists, especially those who the Turkish government reportedly wants silenced. So far, 26 Twitter accounts of journalists, half of which are verified, are said to have been censored following the coup attempt.
Most of the censored accounts allegedly belong to former reporters and editors of the Zaman Amerika Daily, with ties to the Gulen movement, which Erdogan reportedly holds responsible for the coup attempt. However, the list also includes a Kurdish journalist, @AmedDicleeT, (with 186,000 followers), Kurdish daily @ozgurgundemweb1, and the official account of the Kurdish news agency@DicleHaberAjans.
Additionally, based on court orders sent out by the Turkish government to Twitter, specifying a list of people to be censored on the social media platform, Turkish NBA player @Enes_Kanter has been censored by Twitter for his support of Gülen.
Despite Twitter's policy regarding "country withheld content", which specifies that Twitter will "attempt to notify" affected account holders via email, some of those who have already been censored are yet to receive any notification, alerting them that their accounts have been banned. Former editor at Today's Zaman Celil Sağır and editor-in-chief Bülent Keneş, who was arrested for posting a series of tweets "insulting Erdogan", told Daily Dot they had not received any notifications concerning their ban from Twitter.
Twitter is currently facing a serious backlash from critics about allegedly censoring abusive content only for high-profile users, including US President Barack Obama and reality star Caitlyn Jenner. However, Twitter's current stance on censorship still appears to be ambiguous, especially given that the accounts already censored are by no means the full list of accounts that the Turkish government wants censored.
Two other journalists, @tuncayopcin and @EmreUslu, both of whom worked at Gulen-linked news outlets have also been listed in the two court orders issued by Turkey. However, they are yet to be censored by Twitter. The same applies to @RifatDogann who works for the independent outlet @Dikencomtr.