Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan arrives for an opening ceremony of a new metro line in Ankara  March 13, 2014. A defiant Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, already battling a damaging corruption scandal weeks ahead of elections, cast the latest unrest as part of a plot against the state. REUTERS/Umit Bektas (TURKEY - Tags: POLITICS TRANSPORT) - RTR3GW8Y

Will Turkey and Twitter Kiss and Make Up?

The two sides are trying to settle a dispute over Turkey's ban on the microblogging site last month

After weeks of beef, it looks like the Turkish government and Twitter are ready to squash it.

Officials from both sides held a two-day summit in Ankara this week in an effort to settle their dispute, which stems in part from the Turkish government’s decision to shut down the microblogging site ahead of last month’s municipal elections.

Twitter Head of Global Public Policy Colin Crowell visits Ankara on April 14.

(Getty Images/Anadolu Agency/Murat Kaynak)

The meeting was a big deal in a country where Twitter penetration runs deeper than almost everywhere else in the world, and many young people rely on the platform for news, instead of the country’s traditional media.

The spat began last summer when Erdogan called Twitter a “menace” after protesters in Istanbul’s Gezi Park used the service to criticize his government. But things really heated up last December after a corruption scandal seemed to point the finger at some of his allies. Even though Erdogan’s party, known by its Turkish acronym, AKP, wasn’t averse to deploying Twitter bots to spread their message, the prime minister blocked both Twitter and YouTube in March after critics leaked audio recordings onto the sites to tie the Turkish leader and his family to the wider scandal.

Protesters wear masks during a demonstration on June 11, 2013, in Istanbul, Turkey.

(Getty Images/Lam Yik Fei)

Erdogan denies any wrongdoing, but the prime minister faced a chorus of international critics after the ban went into effect. U.S. officials called Turkey’s decision the 21st-century equivalent of book burning, but Erdogan held firm in an apparent effort to show the world that his country isn’t a banana republic.

Earlier this month, Turkey’s top judicial body overturned the ban, saying that it violated freedom of expression. Erdogan responded by saying he didn’t respect the court’s decision, but would abide by it.

Turkey unblocked the site, but the still-smarting prime minister chastised Twitter last week, calling the San Francisco-based company a “tax evader,” and lambasting it, along with Facebook and YouTube, as a profit-seeker posing as a freedom fighter.

A board showing alternative ways to access Twitter is displayed at an election campaign office of the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) in Istanbul on March 25, 2014.

(Reuters/Murad Sezer)

“We will deal with them,” Erdogan said. “They will come like every international company and comply with my country’s constitution, laws and tax rules.”

It is not yet clear if Twitter and Turkey were able to make nice, but Turkey’s semi-official Anatolian news agency insisted that the two sides found common ground.

Turkish officials reportedly urged Twitter to open an office in the country, pay taxes and remove tweets that Ankara says are damaging to national security, privacy and personal rights.

Twitter did not respond to a request for comment.

Respond Now
Post It
Add: #twitter

An Analysis of ISIS Quarterly Reports: Kill and Conquer

Adi Kochavi

ISIS Beheading of U.S. Journalist Posted to YouTube

Markham Nolan

Here's Why You Need to Chill With the Ice Bucket Challenge

Markham Nolan

Calm, Common Sense Finally Prevail in Ferguson

Brian Feldman

Millionaire Buys 4,000 Bottles of Holy Water to Fight Ebola

Abigail Tracy

Sisters Set to Become the First Women Ever Executed in India

Luke Malone

Two People Dead at the Chess Olympics (No, This is Not a Typo)

Brian Feldman

The 26-Year-Old Woman Waging War Against Sexism

Eric Markowitz
Join the Fray
“Rollin’ Coal” Is Pollution Porn for Dudes With Pickup Trucks