Tag Archives: Twitter

CIA joins social media, is immediately trolled

Though the US Central Intelligence Agency may use Facebook, Twitter, and the like to keep tabs on targets of interest, the spy agency has only now officially joined social media–a move hastened by an imposter who was using the agency’s name online.

The agency’s first tweet, which earned the CIA nearly 200,000 Twitter followers in just a few hours, was the appropriately sarcastic, “We can neither confirm nor deny that this is our first tweet.” There were already 40,000 followers after just a single hour online, with the agency’s debut on Facebook sparking a similar conversation on that platform.

“By expanding to these platforms, CIA will be able to more directly engage with the public and provide information on the CIA’s mission, history, and other developments,” CIA Director John Brennan said in a press release Friday. “We have important insights to share, and we want to make sure that unclassified information about the agency is more accessible to the American public that we serve, consistent with our national security mission.”

The CIA admitted as far back as 2011 that its agents and employees regularly scan social media to spy on intelligence targets. It already had multiple accounts on Flickr and YouTube, but only debuted on Twitter Friday because it had spent months lobbying Twitter to stop someone else who was already using the @CIA handle.

“There was someone out there impersonating CIA via Twitter,” spokesperson K. Jordan Caldwell told NBC. “Earlier this year, CIA filed an impersonation complaint with Twitter and they secured the @CIA account for us, which is routine for government agencies. This has been a lengthy process. It’s been in the works for a long time.”

The poser wasn’t a member of the Syrian Electronic Army, or even a veteran of the agency’s “enhanced interrogation” techniques, but the Cleveland Institute of Art, which was cursed with the same abbreviation as one of the most powerful cloak and dagger agencies in the world.

“We just deleted that one because it was kind of confusing,” Jessica Moore, the institute’s web manager, told the Wall Street Journal. “Some people would mention us in their tweets and they were clearly thinking they were talking with the ‘real CIA,’ the Central Intelligence Agency.”

If the CIA is used to infiltrating foreign governments and aiding assassinations, though, it was still unprepared for Twitter trolling. Tweets immediately began pouring into the agency’s timeline from all over the world. Whether it be journalists, comedians, companies, or conspiracy theorists, seemingly all of Twitter felt compelled to make a joke that had been made dozens of times before.

Certainly the most effective trolling so far has come from the New York Review of Books, which launched an assault on the CIA’s Twitter feed complete with the torture methods used by the CIA and the date each incident occurred.

Each of the flurry of tweets included a link to the 2009 NY Review of Boks article titled “US Torture. Voices from the Black Sites,” which “reveals for the first time the contents of a confidential Red Cross report about the CIA’s secret offshore prisons.” The link was unavailable for much of the afternoon Friday, most likely because the site in question was overwhelmed with the sudden amount of traffic that came from the hundreds of retweets and favorites.

Along with compelling the Cleveland Institute of Art to give up its Twitter moniker, the CIA’s debut on Twitter is also timely because it comes as a number of US government agencies have increasingly relied on social media to communicate with the public. The trend began a year ago after the Edward Snowden leak, when the National Security Agency sought to shift the conversation with its own Twitter account.

“Other US government departments have attempted to use social media not only to get out their message, but at times to actively combat America’s enemies in sometimes bizarre online spats,” explained Lee Ferran of ABC News. “The State Department‘s Think Again Turn Away Twitter account, for instance, directly engages in arguments with pro-jihadi computer users. Terrorist groups, like the Taliban and the Al-Qaeda-allied group Al-Shabab in Somalia, already have a robust social media presence, which they use to spread their own propaganda.”

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In First, Erdogan Sues Own Country Over Twitter Free-Speech Rulings

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Turkey’s Hurriyet Daily News over the weekend characterized the country’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan as having broken new legal ground after the Turkish leader applied for damages from the Turkish state as part of an ongoing controversy related to Twitter:

The move has been described as a “first of its kind” by the Union of Turkish Bar Associations (TBB) head Metin Feyzioğlu, who said the prime minister of Turkey had never before filed a lawsuit against the state.

“There is no precedent for the Prime Minister of the Turkish Republic to sue the Turkish Republic and demand compensation. This is happening for the first time,” said Feyzioğlu.

Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP) had banned access to both Twitter and YouTube on the eve of recent nationwide elections, a move that was widely seen as aimed at dampening discussions of a massive graft scandal that had ensnared top AKP elites including Erdogan and his family.

The bans drew global ridicule and triggered a diplomatic crisis with Europe, and were promptly overturned by Turkish courts on free speech grounds (the government restored access to Twitter but YouTube has remained unreachable). Erdogan’s lawsuit appears to claim that the Turkish state allowed Twitter to continue being accessible, and Twitter violated his privacy rights by linking to purported recordings of him discussing how to hide vast sums of money, and so the Turkish state violated his privacy rights and owes him damages.

Legal scholars interviewed by various Turkish outlets expressed skepticism regarding the soundness of the legal theory. Nonetheless two anonymous Twitter accounts that posted links to the conversations were apparently suspended in the immediate aftermath of Erdogan’s court application:

Twitter last week agreed to comply with a Turkish government request to close some accounts that officials said had breached national security or privacy regulations.

The two accounts – Haramzadeler and Bascalan – each had more than 400,000 followers, who now see only a red circle with a line through it and cannot access any tweeted material.

 The Tower.

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Turkey’s Erdogan Says Lifting of Twitter Ban Should Be Overturned

ANKARA — Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday a constitutional court ruling lifting a ban on Twitter was wrong and should be overturned.

“The constitutional court’s ruling on Twitter did not serve

justice. This ruling should be corrected,” Erdogan told a parliamentary meeting of his AK Party.

Access to Twitter was blocked on March 21 in the run-up to local elections, but Turkey’s telecoms authority lifted the two-week-old ban last Thursday after the court ruled that the block breached freedom of expression.

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المهمة المؤجلة – وجه كيري المشؤم يطل اليوم على الجزائر

تطرح زيارة وزير الخارجية الأمريكي جون كيري إلى الجزائر اليوم الأربعاء 2 أبريل، تساؤلات حول أهدافها، بخاصة أنها تأتي قبيل إجراء الانتخابات الرئاسية في الجزائر المقررة في 17 أبريل الجاري

تتعدد التكهنات والمواقف حيال زيارة كيري إلى الجزائر رغم أنها كانت مقررة منذ نهاية العام الماضي، وتم تأجيلها بسبب انعقاد مؤتمر جنيف الدولي الخاص بالبرنامج النووي الإيراني، بخاصة أنها ستكون الزيارة الرفيعة الثانية في غضون عام بعد تلك التي قامت بها وزيرة الخارجية الأمريكية السابقة هيلاري كلينتون إلى الجزائر في أكتوبر من العام الماضي

الخارجية الأمريكية قالت إن كيري سيبحث في الجزائر مع نظيره رمضان العمامرة سبل التقدم في “الحوار الاستراتيجي” الذي انطلق بين البلدين في أكتوبر عام 2012، إضافة إلى قضايا السياسة والأمن في المنطقة

بدورها أشارت الخارجية الجزائرية إلى أن الحوار بين كيري والعمامرة سيشمل جميع ميادين التعاون الثنائي وخاصة في المجالات الاقتصادية والسياسية وتطوير الاستثمار، إضافة إلى عدد من القضايا ذات الاهتمام المشترك على المستويين الإقليمي والدولي والتعاون في مجال محاربة الإرهاب

على المستوى الداخلي، عبّر رئيس حركة مجتمع السلم الجزائرية “الإخوان المسلمون” عبد الرزاق مقري عن “استغرابه” لزيارة وزير الخارجية الأمريكي مشيرا إلى توقيتها في أوج الحملة الانتخابية الرئاسية

أما زعيمة حزب العمال اليساري لويزة حنون، فانتقدت بشدة زيارة كيري واصفة إياها بالصفقة الخفية مع النظام الحالي لغض الطرف عن التجاوزات التي تحصل في الانتخابات الرئاسية مقابل التنازل عن الكثير من الأمور بما فيها قاعدة 51/49 في المائة التي تمنح النسبة الأكبر للجانب الجزائري في أي مشروع مع الأجانب، إضافة إلى السماح للشركات الأمريكية المستثمرة في الجزائر بتحويل أرباحها بالعملة الصعبة إلى الخارج

تؤكد مصادر إعلامية أن زيارة وزير الخارجية الأمريكي جون كيري إلى الجزائر يطغى عليها الطابع الأمني نظرا لحساسية منطقة الساحل الأفريقي وما تشهده من تقلبات كبيرة، وإلى موقع الجزائر ضمن نطاق ما يسمى بالنظام الفرعي الإقليمي الشرق أوسطي الأمريكي

  الإدارة الأمريكية كما تنقل جريدة “الخبر” الجزائرية عن مصادر مطلعة، ستوجه رسائل محددة في هذا الشأن من بينها ضرورة الانتقال إلى مرحلة فعلية من الإصلاحات واحترام قواعد الشفافية في الانتخابات، وضمان الاستقرار لما بعد الانتخابات الرئاسية

 

Under Secretary of State for Civilian Security, Democracy and Human Rights Sarah Sewall to Travel to Algeria and Morocco.

Travel to Brussels, Algiers, and Rabat, April 1-5, 2014.

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Turkish politics : The battle for Turkey’s future

464564An increasingly autocratic prime minister is losing touch with voters and damaging his country

An increasingly autocratic prime minister is losing touch with voters and damaging his country – See more at: http://www.economist.com/news/europe/21599819-increasingly-autocratic-prime-minister-losing-touch-voters-and-damaging-his-country#sthash.lHg8PweI.dpuf
An increasingly autocratic prime minister is losing touch with voters and damaging his country – See more at: http://www.economist.com/news/europe/21599819-increasingly-autocratic-prime-minister-losing-touch-voters-and-damaging-his-country#sthash.lHg8PweI.dpuf
An increasingly autocratic prime minister is losing touch with voters and damaging his country – See more at: http://www.economist.com/news/europe/21599819-increasingly-autocratic-prime-minister-losing-touch-voters-and-damaging-his-country#sthash.lHg8PweI.dpuf
An increasingly autocratic prime minister is losing touch with voters and damaging his country – See more at: http://www.economist.com/news/europe/21599819-increasingly-autocratic-prime-minister-losing-touch-voters-and-damaging-his-country#sthash.lHg8PweI.dpuf

RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN has reason to thank Vladimir Putin. For weeks the Russian president’s attack on Ukraine has hogged headlin

An increasingly autocratic prime minister is losing touch with voters and damaging his country – See more at: http://www.economist.com/news/europe/21599819-increasingly-autocratic-prime-minister-losing-touch-voters-and-damaging-his-country#sthash.lHg8PweI.dpuf

es. This has let Turkey’s prime minister get away with only limited international opprobrium for a string of illiberal laws that seem designed mainly to protect himself and his allies from a corruption scandal that one insider calls the biggest in modern Turkish history.

Since the scandal broke in mid-December, when police raided the homes of several sons of ministers, illicit recordings have emerged on the internet supposedly implicating Mr Erdogan, his relatives and others in dodgy dealings. Mr Erdogan has denounced these as fabrications, and blamed a network of judges, prosecutors and police linked to Fethullah Gulen, a powerful Sunni Muslim cleric based in Pennsylvania. (The irony that Mr Gulen was an ally of Mr Erdogan in his previous legal battles against the army and the secularists has not escaped Turks.)

Mr Erdogan has reassigned or sacked hundreds of policemen, judges and prosecutors, stalling the investigation. He has passed laws giving the government greater control over the judiciary and security services, clamped down on the media and tightened internet regulation. His latest move was to get the internet regulator, a former spook, briefly to ban Twitter, and he has often threatened other social media as well (see article).

Mounting criticism of the prime minister has left him unmoved, just as it did after he unleashed a brutal police assault on protesters in Istanbul’s Gezi Park last summer. Besides attacking Gulenists and protesters, he has responded with digs at the foreign media and a purported “interest-rate lobby” (in January the central bank doubled its rates to 10%). And he defiantly declared that the Twitter ban showed to the world the strength of the republic.

Above all, Mr Erdogan relies on one overarching claim: that he has the support of voters. Ever since his Justice and Development (AK) party was catapulted to power in November 2002, its electoral success has been impressive. AK’s share of the vote rose to 47% in 2007 and almost 50% in 2011 (though it fell below 40% in municipal elections in 2009). Mr Erdogan has adopted a fiercely majoritarian attitude: so long as voters back him, he is entitled to do whatever he wants, heedless of opponents, protesters, judges, prosecutors or Europe. In a country with weak institutions and few checks and balances, such a view inevitably tends to authoritarianism.

On March 30th the prime minister’s support among Turkish voters will be put to the test, for the first time since the Gezi protests and the corruption probe, in municipal elections. Mr Erdogan has explicitly turned these into a referendum on himself and his party. If AK does well, which most analysts reckon means winning over 40% of the vote and keeping control of both Ankara and Istanbul, Mr Erdogan will claim vindication for his tough policies.

The outcome is highly uncertain. The main opposition parties, the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Nationalist Action Party (MHP) are weak. AK remains very strong in its Anatolian heartland, which includes such cities as Bursa, Kayseri and Konya. But Mr Erdogan’s approval rating has fallen over the past year. The CHP is quietly confident of winning Ankara, and it even hopes to upset AK in Istanbul, the city where Mr Erdogan began his political career. If AK does that badly, one minister predicts, it might even split.

Besides his 11 years in office, Gezi and the corruption cases, another reason why some Turks are tiring of Mr Erdogan is the economy. During AK’s time in power, GDP per head has tripled in real terms. After a sharp drop in 2009, growth bounced back to China-like levels in 2010 and 2011 (see chart). But this year it may be barely above 3%. The IMF reckons trend growth has dropped from 7% to 3%, too low to stop unemployment rising. Turkey also has the biggest current-account deficit in the OECD rich-country club, making it vulnerable to a loss of foreign confidence. Not surprisingly the lira has tumbled, shedding some 24% of its value against the dollar since last April and pushing up inflation.

Mehmet Simsek, the finance minister, rejects warnings about the economy as alarmist. He says all emerging markets have suffered since America signalled that interest rates might start rising. The current account was hit by high gold imports. Worries about corporate exposure to foreign-currency debt are exaggerated: most is owed by the biggest exporters. For the long term, he talks of better infrastructure, education (he points to 400,000 extra teachers and 210,000 extra classrooms) and more investment in R&D. He notes that Turkey has climbed from 71st to 44th in the World Economic Forum’s competitiveness table.

Yet Turkey’s weaknesses are obvious. Female participation in the workforce is the lowest in the OECD. Inequality is alarmingly high. Turkey comes a lowly 69th in the World Bank’s “Doing Business” rankings. In many ways it is in a middle-income trap: the low-cost advantage that the Anatolian tigers had in textiles, furniture, white goods and carmaking has been eroded by rising wages (and prices), but productivity and skills are not good enough to switch easily to higher-value production.

Above all is the uncertainty about Turkey’s political direction. Although the new European Union minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, talks of 2014 as the year of the EU, he concedes that popular support for EU membership has fallen from 70% in 2005 to only 40% today. In truth EU membership talks are stalled, and they are unlikely to revive soon, not least because Mr Erdogan has lost interest. He is also said to have become more dismissive of Turkey’s NATO membership. Losing the EU anchor, in particular, worries businessmen. Muharrem Yilmaz, chairman of Tusiad, the industrialists’ lobby, complains that the government did not take advantage of EU membership talks to strengthen political and economic institutions, and that its reform momentum has run out.

What might Mr Erdogan do next? He had hoped to stand for president in August, when the term of the incumbent, Abdullah Gul, a co-founder of AK, runs out. Mr Gul, who has avoided clashing directly with Mr Erdogan but made clear his unhappiness with his restrictive laws, could then become prime minister. But recent events have reduced the chances of Mr Erdogan stepping up to the presidency, not least because he has been unable to amend the constitution to give the job greater powers. So he may prefer to let Mr Gul run again and instead scrap the internal AK party rule against any MP running for a fourth term. That would let him stay on as prime minister and perhaps bring forward the general election due next year.

Yet such a move would only confirm criticism of Mr Erdogan’s autocratic ways.  Aykan Erdemir, a young CHP MP, says the situation makes him think of other embattled leaders in their bunkers, surrounded by yes-men. Put simply, the prime minister lacks an exit strategy. It would be better for his country if he found one.

 

 The Economist.

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Turkey blocks Google service used to sidestep Twitter ban

Protesters hold placards reading “do not touch my twitter ” and “communication right is a basic human right” during a demonstration against the ban on Twitter during a demonstration against Turkish government in Ankara on March 22, 2014.

Turkish authorities have blocked the Google DNS service used by the local Twitter community to get around the ban on the social network. The number of tweets, however, jumped 138 percent.

The measure has come as Erdogan starts a final electoral push to stifle rivals who he has described as an “alliance of evil.”

After the ban imposed on Twitter late on Thursday, with Erdogan’s vow to “wipe out” the messaging service, the Turks began using Google’s DNS service to access the social network. The users typed 8.8.8.8 and 8.8.4.4 into their network settings to bypass the ban. Also, these numbers appeared in graffiti on the walls of some houses.

The Domain Name System (DNS) is a hierarchical distributed naming system for computers, services, or any resource connected to the internet or a private network. Apart from bypassing blocking, it can be used for faster internet surfing speeds.

The authorities said that Twitter had been banned for a reason, though, saying there are “hundreds of court rulings in Turkey” over Twitter content.

“Twitter has been used as a means to carry out systematic character assassinations by circulating illegally acquired recordings, fake and fabricated records of wiretapping,” Erdogan’s office of public diplomacy said on Saturday.

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Also, the social network was “biased,” they stressed.

Twitter was blocked ahead of the March-30 local elections for the campaigning period.

However, President Abdullah Gul has said that the presidency is in talks with Twitter to reach a speedy resolution to the block on the website in Turkey, Hurriyet Daily News reported.

“It is not legally possible to shut down the internet and platforms [like Twitter]” he told reporters in Ankara. “This is of course an unpleasant situation for such a developed country as Turkey, which has weight in the region and which is negotiating with the European Union. Therefore, it will be overcome soon.”

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Earlier, Twitter officials expressed hope that full access to the website will be restored shortly, after a lawyer representing the platform met with Turkish authorities in the capital Ankara on March 21, local media reported.

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Turkish people strike back, tweeting against Twitter ban

Demonstrators, members of the Turkish Youth Union, shout anti-government slogans during a protest against a Twitter ban, in Ankara yesterday.

Ankara has found the internet difficult to silence over allegations of corruption. Hours after Turkey’s government moved to block access to Twitter, Turkish citizens struck back – on the social media network itself.

Some circulated a manipulated picture of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, prime minister, sinking his teeth into the blue bird that serves as the network’s mascot. They were not alone: the number of tweets sent after the midnight ban rose 140 per cent over normal levels, according to data provided by analytics firm Brandwatch.

Dodging the ban
Twitter sent out mobile numbers that allowed Turkish consumers to keep using its service. In another technical fix against the ban, Turkish downloads of Hotspot Shield, the world’s most popular virtual private network service, rose to 270,000 on Friday – from a daily average of 7,000.

The Turkish users’ defiance and the sheer scale of their activity suggest no immediate end to the battering Mr Erdogan has suffered in cyberspace.

Seeking to silence allegations of corruption against him and his government in the run-up to local elections on March 30th, he has removed some 7,000 policemen from their posts and boosted Ankara’s powers over judges and prosecutors.

But the internet has proved harder to handle. A formal corruption investigation has stalled, Twitter and YouTube have been used to circulate apparently incriminating voice recordings of Mr Erdogan and his circle – including some he has acknowledged as authentic.

Yet more explosive leaks are expected ahead of this month’s elections – according to one rumour, more revelations will come on March 25th.

But if Turkey’s Twitter ban was intended to thwart the dissemination of such allegations, it has backfired spectacularly.

“Erdogan is constantly on the run now. I don’t think he has time to think,” said Soli Ozel at Kadir Has university in Istanbul. “He is trying to keep the scandal as muted as possible at all costs, but he can’t control the technology. Instead, he is fuelling the fire of suspicion and making everyone anticipate what, if anything, will come out on the 25th.”

Mr Erdogan took aim at Twitter, saying he would “root out” the microblogging service for national security reasons. But he failed to account for Turkey’s predilection for social networks – a response, many say, to a cowed media – which means Twitter has greater penetration among web users here than in any other country.

Even President Abdullah Gul, who signed a Bill increasing government control over the internet, tweeted his opposition to the measure.

Free speech
Before long, the European Commission, the Council of Europe, the UK government, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and many other non-governmental and international bodies had sent tweets deploring what they depicted as an attack on free speech. Celebrities such as Russell Crowe, Richard Branson, Mia Farrow and Elijah Wood piled in.

The Turkish bar association filed a criminal complaint against the ban, which it said was illegal. As sporadic Twitter service returned, mystery surrounded who had formally imposed the measure, supposedly in response to court complaints about invasion of privacy.

The government says it was done as Twitter had failed to respect such court complaints; a lawyer for Twitter was in Ankara for meetings yesterday.

“These steps are very crucial for the Turkish legal system,” said Selin Erciyas, at Mehmet Gun & Partners, an Istanbul law firm. “We will see if there is a true objective legal system or whether it is just Erdogan that decides things in court.”

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Turkey blocks Twitter after PM threatens to wipe it out

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Turkey has blocked Twitter hours after embattled Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan threatened to close it down ahead of a key election. It comes after audio recordings purportedly demonstrating corruption among his associates were posted on the site.

Just before midnight, access to Twitter was blocked, Hurriyet Daily reports.

“We now have a court order. We will wipe out Twitter,” the Islamist-leaning leader told a crowd of adulating supporters during a campaign rally in the northwestern city of Bursa on Thursday, AFP reported.

“I don’t care what the international community says. They will see the Turkish republic‘s strength,” Erdogan added.

According to the Press Advisory of the Prime Ministry, Twitter officials are currently ignoring court rulings demanding they remove some links.

[In Erdogan’s speech] it is stated that as long as Twitter fails to change its attitude of ignoring court rulings and not doing what is necessary according to the law, technically, there might be no remedy but to block access in order to relief our citizens,” the statement says, as quoted by Hurriyet.

Last month, Turkey passed a controversial law tightening control over the internet, raising major concerns about free speech. It enabled authorities to block access to web pages within hours without a prior court order.

The Communication Technologies Institution (BTK) lists four court rulings on its website as the reasons for the latest block.

Twitter Inc says it is looking into reports that it has been banned in Turkey, Reuters says.

Multiple recordings have recently emerged not just on Twitter, but also on Facebook and YouTube, purportedly showing Erdogan – whose AK Party dominates the parliament – illegally meddling in political, legal, business, and media affairs.

In one recording, he instructs his son to hide tens of millions of euros worth of cash in the house. In another, he tells off an editor of a major newspaper for producing negative coverage. Erdogan has dismissed most of the recordings as “vile fakes” and accused a “robot lobby” of targeting his government through Twitter.

The leader also threatened to shut down YouTube and Facebook – which is used by 35 million Turks – last month.

The run-up to the local elections on March 30 – which will be followed by parliamentary and presidential polls – has been marked by constant rancour, with allegations of fraud adding to the protests over corruption and the suppression of political and civil freedoms from the opposition.

But the AK Party, which has been in power since 2002, is set to maintain its supremacy, if polls are to be believed.

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Turkey’s Erdogan again threatens to ban social media

Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan addresses the crowd during an opening ceremony of a new metro line in Ankara March 13, 2014.

Turkey’s Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan addresses the crowd during an opening ceremony of a new metro line in Ankara March 13, 2014.

(Reuters) – Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday repeated his threat to close down social media platforms including Twitter in Turkey and said he did not care about the potential backlash from the international community.

“We will wipe out all of these,” Erdogan told thousands of supporters at a rally in the northwestern province of Bursa.

“The international community can say this, can say that. I don’t care at all. Everyone will see how powerful the Republic of Turkey is,” he said.

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Sons of Thieves Tweet Secrets While Erdogan Scolds YouTube

In the epic corruption scandal that has enthralled Turkey, where the private affairs of powerful men are leaked daily on the Internet, one secret has remained stubbornly elusive: Who is Haramzadeler?

The nom de plume, employed by an anonymous user on Twitter Inc. (TWTR)’s messaging service, means Sons of Thieves in Turkish. Its owner or owners have achieved notoriety and outsized influence by posting links on Twitter to a large cache of secret documents and hours of audio described as police wiretaps, part of a 15-month corruption investigation that has swept up Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, his family and his friends.

Haramzadeler’s proficiency in harnessing the anonymity of Twitter with the reach of YouTube has unleashed more than 1,000 pages of transcribed tapes and dozens of tape recordings. Postings also comment on current events: Today, as tens of thousands of protesters marched toward central Istanbul to mourn yesterday’s death of a 15-year old boy hit by a tear-gas canister last year, Haramzadeler posted a stylized drawing of the victim wearing angel wings.

The leaks have enlivened the opposition and put Erdogan on the defensive amid the public allegations of graft that stretch from the prime minister’s family to the businessmen who’ve profited during his 11 years in power.

With more than 500,000 followers across two related accounts, the posts have drawn the ire of the prime minister, who said in a television interview last week that he might consider blocking YouTube and other social media.

‘Media Blackout’

Twitter itself has become a zone of dissent, rooted in the government’s violent response in 2013 to protests over the demolition of Istanbul’s Gezi Park, said Ethan Zuckerman, director for the Center of Civic Media at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge. The revelations have made Haramzadeler a major source of anti-Erdogan information, especially in a country where the largest television channels and newspapers are openly supportive of the prime minister.

“Twitter has become a channel both for sharing news and commenting on the failings of Turkish media,” Zuckerman said in an e-mail. “It developed quite specifically in response to what many protesters and their supporters see as a media blackout.”

Erdogan didn’t mention Twitter in last week’s interview on the ATV channel, whose 2013 sale from a company run by his son-in-law to another run by a business ally was itself the subject of a Twitter post by Haramzadeler. Erdogan and President Abdullah Gul are among the five most-followed world leaders on Twitter, with more than 8.4 million combined followers.

YouTube’s Mercy

The prime minister focused instead on the linked sites, usually on YouTube, where followers can find recordings, photographs and police records. And he mentioned Facebook (FB), which has 34 million active users in Turkey.

“We will not leave this nation at the mercy of YouTube and Facebook,” he said in the interview, and said he would make a decision on any ban after the March 30 elections.

Turks will choose between mayoral candidates from Erdogan’s AK Party and the opposition CHP, which has used the information leaked by Haramzadeler to attack Erdogan on the floor of parliament and in campaign speeches around the country.

While the authenticity of the recordings or the police records couldn’t be independently verified, Erdogan and his government have addressed the allegations in a lawsuit, in parliament and on the campaign trail. Speaking across Turkey, the prime minister has dismissed some of the recordings as fake, embraced one as “natural” and has said of the entire investigation that it is sparked by “foreign powers.”

Prime Thief

Haramzadeler hasn’t said where the recordings and documents come from. The posts call them court-ordered wiretaps, conducted by the police under the direction of a prosecutor. The results of that investigation, which became public on Dec. 17 when dozens of people related to Erdogan’s government were arrested, haven’t been officially released.

Another account, Bascalan, a play on the Turkish word for prime minister that means Prime Thief, sends out additional files. The user doesn’t say whether the wiretaps posted were authorized by law enforcement.

In Istanbul, Turkey’s richest and most populous city, Haramzadeler’s tweets are followed avidly, said about a dozen people interviewed in coffee shops in the city’s center.

“He’s a true hero,” said Asla, a mid-30s advertising executive who asked that her name not be used because she didn’t want to publicly criticize the government. “Everywhere in the news there are nothing but lies, but I trust these things because I can hear them, see them and show them to my parents and my friends.” Her laptop lay on the table in front of her at the outdoor cafe, open to her Twitter account.

Changing Handles

Through all of this, Haramzadeler has remained nameless, changing Twitter handles as the previous ones are spammed by government supporters. The user also shuffles the websites used to display material and recently started adding web proxies to the links. Those shield followers from exposing their own identities when they follow the links.

The user didn’t respond to a request for comment sent to a website mentioned in the Twitter bio. A spokesman for Facebook Inc. declined to comment. Nu Wexler, a spokesman for Twitter, declined comment, as did Ozlem Oz, the Turkey communications manager for Google Inc. (GOOG), owner of YouTube.

Haramzadeler has remained prolific as the government has stalled the investigation by replacing prosecutors and thousands of police officers. Last weekend alone, he posted about alleged bribes to bank executives, domestic spying and the purchase with loaned money of a cargo ship named “Pretty.”

Sons of Thieves Tweet Secrets While Erdogan Scolds YouTube – Bloomberg.

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