I’ve moved an update about Turkey’s Youtube ban from the end of my Medium story on the Twitter ban to here:
UPDATE: On 3/27, YouTube was also blocked in Turkey with the executive decision of the governing agency, TIB. The context of this ban is an alleged recording of Erdogan’s inner circle, including the Foreign Minister, the ramifications of an incursion into with Syria. For many days, a Twitter account who claims to be a mole in Erdogan’s inner circle had been “predicting” that Erdogan was considering war with Syria as a means to gather support or distract. (I am not going to comment on the validity of these claims or the recordings but provide them only to explain the political context). So far, the Youtube ban is a DNS level only which is similar to many previous blocks of Youtube in Turkey and circumvention will be easy (changing DNS settings) and widely undertaken.
While we need to wait for Prime Minister Erdogan to speak, early reports are that it was the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which condemned the leak in very strong terms, that requested the block. (Also, a key piece of background information is that Google/Youtube has been refusing to yank the alleged corruption leaks on Youtube).
As with other blocks, the content in question was quickly uploaded to other sites and people have started sharing the links.
Overall, I remain convinced of the argument above: the content is not blockable, and this is quite obvious to the Turkish government which has many technologically competent people, including the Minister of Foreign Affairs who was a frequent twitter user and I have once watched discuss the power of social media with “Arab Spring” youth where it was clear that he knew what he was talking about (and quite smooth about it). These blocks are meant to demonize social media content, and to dissuade Erdogan supporters from seeking this content, knowing what to seek, and being motivated to seek it. If they know what to look for, and if they are motivated to want to look for it, circumvention remains possible and within reach of most.
An interesting confirmation of the difference is remembering what PM Erdogan had said about the previous YouTube ban—which had come about because of content that the government does not truly care about. When asked about the ban, he had said: “I access it [Youtube]”, meaning that he circumvented, “You can access it, too.” Now, in contrast, PM Erdogan devouts good chunks of his limited time in political rallies decrying Twitter and Youtube (and also Facebook) as places that threaten families, and are source of lies and evil.
Finally, it will be interesting to watch if an IP block follows the DNS block as it did with Twitter. If it does not, I’d take it as proof for the argument that the government does not want VPN use to spread because while DNS circumvention allows for YouTube access, it does not allow for Twitter access where most of the political link distribution takes place. A higher-level block on the distributing service (Twitter) rather than the content (Youtube) would be an interesting indication of the priorities of a political actor facing a challenge to its control over the public sphere.