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Wikipedia founder says Twitter was wrong to block tweets during Turkey’s election

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Twitter’s decision to block certain content in Turkey the day before its presidential and parliamentary elections was wrong, Jimmy Wales, the founder of online dictionary Wikipedia, told BBC.

Twitter announced in the early hours of Saturday that it was restricting access in Turkey to certain account holders to ensure the platform “remains available to the people of Turkey,” seen by critics as giving in to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who is seeking reelection.

Wales told the BBC his organization had spent two and a half years in court to avoid similar demands made by Turkey in the past.

He said he believed the tech sector should stand together in defending free access to information.

Twitter’s owner Elon Musk said Turkey had threatened to block the whole site.

In 2014 Erdoğan did exactly that, vowing to “wipe out” the social media network after corruption allegations about his government were shared on the platform.

Wikipedia was also banned in Turkey for almost three years after refusing to delete articles that criticized the government.

Turkey’s election will be decided in a runoff later this month after no clear winner emerged from this weekend’s voting.

Twitter said four accounts and 409 tweets had been identified by the Turkish government in a court order, which the platform had then blocked. Twitter added that it would “continue to object in court” to it.

The accounts that were restricted by Twitter include those of Kurdish businessman Muhammed Yakut and investigative journalist Cevheri Güven. The timing of these restrictions, coming only a day before a critical election, raised concerns that the move was politically motivated, potentially stifling voices of dissent and impacting the election’s outcome.

The content is still visible outside of Turkey.

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