Apesar do bloqueio, turcos não deixaram de tweetar


O primeiro-ministro Recep Tayyip Erdogan pode ter fechado o Twitter na Turquia, mas isso não fez com que os turcos – o Presidente incluído – parassem de tweetar. Através de SMS, de DNS ou de VPN, muitos conseguiram evitar a proibição, e assim continuar a escrever e a publicar tweets no Turquia.

De acordo com o site turco Zete.com, pelas 3 da manhã locais, mais de 2,4 milhões de tweets tinham sido enviados da Turquia desde o bloqueio do aparente Twitter. Já o Brandwatch, uma empresa que estuda estatisticamente o social media, avança que na sexta, isto é, no dia imediatamente a seguir à banição, o número de tweets enviados da Turquia disparou 138%. Basicamente o Brandwatch analisou tweets geolocalizados da Turquia durante um período de 2 horas. Já o CEO HootSuite Ryan Holmes garante que o tráfego na Turquia nesta plataforma triplicou nas primeiras 24 horas do bloqueio.

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Entretanto, a hashtag #TwitterisblockedinTurkey ganhou uma dimensão mundial e destaque na caixa de trending topics do Twitter. Muitos foram os tweets enviados na Turquia e fora desta ao longo desta sexta-feira. Entre memes, piadas e palavras de ordens, há o do Presidente turco Abdullah Gül: “Espero que esta ordem não dure”, publicou no Twitter.

O Presidente turco, que já foi um firme aliado do primeiro-ministro – é co-fundador do AKP, o partido de Erdogan –, criou alguma distância quando Erdogan começou a avançar, e rapidamente, com uma agenda islamista. Mas poucas vezes criticou o primeiro-ministro publicamente. Gül foi durante algum tempo a voz que equilibrava os ímpetos mais radicais e agressivos de Erdogan – como, aliás, se viu na crise aberta com os protestos do Parque Gezi, com o Presidente a fazer apelos à não-utilização da força e ao diálogo. Agora, Gül não hesitou em entrar em conflito com o primeiro-ministro, dizendo que o que Erdogan fez é “inaceitável”.

Incentivados pelo próprio Twitter, os turcos recorreram ao SMS, às virtual private networks (VPNs) e às mudanças de domain name system (DNS) para evitarem o bloqueio da rede social dos 140 caracteres no país, e se fazerem ouvir.

O Twitter sempre ofereceu a possibilidade de tweetar através do envio de um SMS, e essa foi uma das soluções aproveitadas na Turquia. Outra delas foi recorrendo a uma Virtual Private Network (ou VPN), que basicamente navegar em privado na web. Mas a solução mais sonante foi, talvez, mudando as definições do Domain Name System (DNS); basicamente os turcos navegavam na web como se o estivessem a fazer num país qualquer que não a Turquia.

Curiosamente Recep Tayyip Erdogan tem 4,17 milhões de seguidores no Twitter e 3043 tweets feitos, o último dos quais a 20 de Março (o dia anterior ao bloqueio). Erdogan foi recentemente envolvido no escândalo de corrupção devido à divulgação de escutas através do Twitter e de outras redes sociais. No entanto, há quem diga que tal motivo não foi suficiente para explicar a decisão do primeiro-ministro de encerrar uma importante arma de mobilização e divulgação de ideias: a viragem islamista de Erdogan e do seu Governo pode ser outra das justificações. Erdogan já mostrou que querer controlar os meios de comunicação e limitar a liberdade de expressão. E o encerramento do Twitter a escassos dias das eleições de dia 30 é apenas mais um passo nessa direcção.

Uma breve história do falhanço do autoritarismo online

Este bloqueio coloca a Turquia na lista dos países que tentaram bloquear o Twitter. Essa lista, que começou a ser feita em 2009, tem países como o Irão, o Egipto e a Venezuela; todos eles proibiram a rede dos 140 caracteres durante momentos de crise política, mas encontraram sempre alguns entraves.

Ryan Holmes, CEO do HootSuite, publicou esta interessante história no LinkedIn. Transcrevemo-la em baixo.

 

Iran

If you were on Twitter in 2009, you might remember seeing a lot of green profile pictures. Twitter famously played a central role in Iran’s 2009 Green Revolution, and “greening” was seen as a gesture of support for the protesters. On June 12, 2009, incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was declared the winner of Iran’s presidential election, a contest all three opposition parties and most international observers immediately dismissed as rigged. The opposition took to the streets, and the fundamentalist firebrand set police and the feared Basij militia on protesters.

Dubbed the first Twitter revolution, the protests that followed Iran’s sham election saw the emergence of many of the tactics, both government and opposition, that would become hallmarks of revolution in the social media era. At first, the government was caught flat-footed. Few among the Ayatollah’s faithful even knew what Twitter was in 2009. When unrest began to bubble over, the government tried to block access to Facebook, but initially left Twitter alone. But they soon took notice.

On June 20, 2009, philosophy student Neda Agha-Soltan, a bystander to one of the Tehran protests, was shot in the chest by (according to CNN and the BBC) a Basij militiaman. #Neda trended globally, as video of her death spread via Twitter. According to Mashable’s Ben Parr, at the height of the protests, more than 221,000 Iran tweets were sent per hour. When the government blocked Twitter, the opposition quickly figured out how to use virtual private networks (VPNs) to access banned sites.

Twitter remained an essential tool for organizing protests and sharing stories about the government’s brutal crackdown. While the government maintained its grip on power, it lost the cat-and-mouse game with its online detractors. As would the authoritarian regimes that followed in its footsteps.

Egypt

The Arab Spring revolts were decades in the making, the result of corruption, poverty, police brutality, food prices, electoral fraud, and myriad other systemic problems in the Middle East. The spark that lit the fuse was the self-immolation of Mohamed Bouazizi on December 17, 2011, in front of the Tunisian parliament. Less than 3 months later, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, the longest-serving leader of the Arab world’s most populous country had resigned. Twitter, as in Iran, was widely used among protesters, with thousands of Tweets per day emanating from Tahrir Square.

The Egyptian government began blocking access to social networking sites including Twitter and Facebook on January 24 and 25. HootSuite was not initially blocked, and starting Jan 24th, experienced a spike in user sign-ups and activity from Egypt as people quickly recognized a way to bypass Egyptian government blocks. Between HootSuite, VPNs, and other common tactics for circumventing the government’s blocks, the Egyptian opposition was able to stay in touch with each other and the outside world using social media. At least for a few days.

On January 27th, the authorities began shutting down the country’s official domain name system. The five major Egyptian service providers—Telecom Egypt, Vodafone/Raya, Link Egypt, Etisalat Misr, and Internet Egypt—were shut down entirely around midnight that night, leaving 88% of the Egyptian Internet disconnected. Pulling the plug on the whole Internet, as Egypt demonstrated, will effectively block access to Twitter. But dictators clinging to power should take note: the OECD estimated the total cost to the economy of the outage at around 90 million US dollars.

Venezuela

The latest political upheaval in which Twitter is playing a significant role is the uprising against Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro, successor to the late socialist hero Hugo Chavez. As we explained in our “Who To Follow” post recently, the social media dimension of the chaos in Venezuela’s streets differs from that of previous conflicts in that both sides are active on Twitter. The government and opposition (leaders included) contribute equally to the cacophony of insults, innuendo, accusations, and spin. Twitter has deeper roots in Venezuela today than it had in Iran or Egypt prior to those revolutions. Chavez himself, a master of incendiary populist rhetoric, joined in 2010, and encouraged his supporters to do the same.

Like their predecessors, the government censors in Venezuela have tried a combination of blocking Twitter and shutting off the whole Internet for the times and places of big protests. Venezuela also introduced the new tactic of blocking images periodically and throttling the internet to inhibit the sharing of media. This time the workarounds were well known. And Twitter spokesman Nu Wexler even got involved, offering Venezuelan users specific advice to circumvent blocks using the service’s SMS feature.

Ranked 117th out of 179 countries in the 2013 Reporters Without Borders World Press Freedom Index, Venezuela aggressively controls all media, and yet protests continue to smolder in its streets. Venezuela’s efforts, like those of the Iranian and Egyptian regimes, prove that, unless you’re willing to turn your country into North Korea, censorship as a means of diffusing political unrest doesn’t work in the age of social media.

One lesson from history that too few authoritarian regimes have learned is that a heavy-handed crackdown on a peaceful protest often makes its message more powerful. The past half-decade of failed attempts to shut down access to Twitter proves that same is often true of the stories and images shared on social media. And just like the right to protest, the right to connect with fellow citizens online is an essential part of democratic participation and empowerment.

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