Twitter announced late Friday that it’s blocking some content in Turkey ahead of Sunday’s presidential election in the country. Twitter didn’t specify the tweets that would be banned, or even who had made the request. However, current President Recep Tayyip Erdogan previously blocked Twitter throughout Turkey.
“In response to legal process and to ensure Twitter remains available to the people of Turkey, we have taken action to restrict access to some content in Turkey today,” Twitter’s Global Government Affairs account announced on Friday.
“We have informed the account holders of this action in line with our policy. This content will remain available in the rest of the world,” the account continued.
Kemal Kilicdaroglu is challenging President Erdogan for reelection. The autocrat, who has been in power since 20 years, currently sits at the same level as him. NPR reports that a second round of voting will be held on May 28 if neither candidate receives more than 50 percent of the votes.
Twitter CEO Elon Musk defended the censorship on Saturday in a tweet to commentator Matt Yglesias, who joked that there would eventually be “Twitter Files” reporting about the incident.
“Did your brain fall out of your head, Yglesias? You can either throttle Twitter in full or restrict access to certain tweets. Which one do you want?” Musk tweeted.
Erdogan’s political party, the AK Party has been criticized for a lack of response in the wake of the February earthquake which devastated the country and claimed the lives over 50,000. Erdogan received criticism for his lax building standards, which allowed many of the buildings to fall during this quake.
Human Rights Watch (based in the United States) has called on social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube, to be transparent with regard to how they moderate content.
“As election night draws near it is imperative that social media platforms and the wider internet remain accessible so the public can follow the work of independent election monitors and reporting around the vote count,” Human Rights Watch said in an article published Friday.
“Given the sorry state of Turkey’s mainstream media, the integrity of Turkey’s election depends upon it.”
Erdogan met with Musk in 2017, not long after America’s own aspiring authoritarian leader, Donald Trump, had taken power. Erdogan and Musk had an alleged video call in December 2021, where they discussed lithium batteries and satellite launches. Musk, who’s CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, also shook hands with Erdogan at the World Cup in 2022.
Musk’s automated system, set up in March by Musk himself, responded with the poop emoji to questions regarding censorship. I’ll update this post if I hear anything of substance from the social media company.
Elon’s tweet at 12:40 AM has been updated. ET.