Turkey bans social media after bombing

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The debris after a car bomb exploded near a bus on Sunday in Turkey, killing 37 people. (Photograph by Reuters)
The debris after a car bomb exploded near a bus on Sunday in Turkey, killing 37 people. (Photograph by Reuters)

Anyone with family or friends in Ankara, Turkey, would not have been able to contact them via social media yesterday, after the second bombing in a month.

A car bomb exploded yesterday in the Turkish capital, killing 37 people and wounding over 100. Shortly after, a court ordered a ban on access to Facebook, Twitter and other sites in Turkey after images from the bombing were shared on social media.

To access social media, a virtual private network (VPN) needed to be used. Local media published lists of free and secure VPNs for Turkish residents.

A user tweeted that Twitter and Facebook are banned after the explosion in #ankaraattack. Another user, said: "Having to use a VPN again to access Twitter and other social media. Sad, very sad. Information doesn't kill, never has. #Turkey."

Checking in

Facebook's Safety Check feature was activated in Turkey shortly after the attack.

Safety Check triggers a push notification on devices that are near an affected area. The feature allows people who are in the area to 'mark' themselves as safe; their Facebook friends will then get a notification to say so.

A Twitter user in Turkey said: "[I'm] tired of checking myself 'safe' on Facebook. Three blasts in six months. Something is wrong, very, very wrong with this country."

After Facebook was banned in Turkey, users were unable to mark themselves safe and alert family and friends, even if a VPN was used, as Facebook would not have picked up the user was near Ankara.

This is not the first time the country has blocked access to social media. Last year, Turkey did not allow use of Twitter after pictures of a prosecutor being held at gunpoint by far-left militants was shared on the platform.

Facebook, Twitter and YouTube were previously banned in the run-up to elections when evidence of corruption was exposed.

Sunday violence

In a separate incident in Ivory Coast yesterday, 16 people were shot by gunmen from al Qaeda's North African branch.

Six shooters opened fire on swimmers and sunbathers on the beach before turning their attention to the packed seafront hotels, reported Reuters.

Two special forces soldiers and 14 civilians were killed, including tourists from France, Germany, Burkina Faso, Mali and Cameroon. All shooters were killed by Ivorian security forces, and grenades recovered.

The government did not ban the use of social media, nor was Facebook Safety Check activated in the country.

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