Turks circumvent Twitter 'ban' with simple Chrome browser app

Thousands find alternative ways to access the site following ban

Twitter users in Turkey are bypassing a supposed ban on the social media website by using a simple Google Chrome app.

Last night, Tweeters in the country said they were being redirected to a statement by Turkey's telecommunications regulator, claiming a court order to impose "protection measures" on the website is in place.

Shortly after, Berlin-based ZenMate, a security and privacy plugin for Google Chrome with over one million users worldwide, saw a surge in the number of people using its service from within Turkey.

"We have seen 25,000 visitors from Turkey to the Chrome store in the last 12 hours," said ZenMate Co-founder Simon Specka on Friday morning. "We saw similar results following recent internet restrictions in Ukraine and Venezuela. Often this kind of spike is the first thing that alerts us to any issues in regions.

"People expect and demand a free and accessible internet wherever they are, and they will always find products that can help them achieve this."

Similarly, Hide My Ass!, which provides users with a free web proxy to keep their identity anonmymous, said it has seen a 25 percent increase in traffic from Turkey in the last 24 hours.

Danvers Baillieu, COO of Hide My Ass!, told Techworld: "As with all such attempts to control the internet, this one is ultimately doomed to fail, as there will always be gaping holes in the blocks. I urge all VPN users in Turkey to spread the word and help their less knowledgeable friends, co-workers and neighbours avoid this stupid ban.

"When www.hidemyass.com was originally set up, it was primarily designed as a tool for people around the world to by-pass censorship on the internet. We are proud of the role we played in the Arab Spring of 2011, when we had record traffic from Egypt. More recently, we have been supporting the #KholoBC campaign against the censorship of Youtube in Pakistan."

Meanwhile, Twitter has informed its 10 million users in the country that they can also send Tweets via SMS through local mobile carriers like Vodafone, Avea and Turkcell.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been previously quoted as vowing to "wipe out" Twitter following allegations of corruption in his close circle on the social media website. The country's municipal elections are scheduled for later this month.

"I don't care what the international community says at all. Everyone will see the power of the Turkish Republic," Mr Erdogan said earlier on Thursday.

Erdogan made similar threats against Facebook and YouTube earlier in the month.

"We are determined on this subject," he said. "We will not leave this nation at the mercy of YouTube and Facebook."

Neelie Kroes, vice president of the European Commission, said in a message that the Twitter ban in Turkey is "groundless, pointless, cowardly." The Turkish people and international community will see it as censorship, which it is, she added.

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