Who has the power to control the Internet – a countries government or a Social Media Site?
Recent events in Turkey regarding Twitter bring up many questions about control of the Internet and who has the power. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan tried to set a ban on twitter in an effort to silence allegations of corruption against him and his government. In Turkey, the Internet and many Social Media Sites such as Twitter and YouTube have been used to expose Prime Minister Erdogan of the corruption in his government.
In this day in age when so much is accessible to the public, especially through the Internet, it makes it hard for things to be kept a secret or out of the public. And that is what Prime Minister Erdogan is experiencing in Turkey – the power of the Internet. But does he have the power to take away Twitter from the Turkey people? In his article about the attempted Twitter ban Daniel Dombey explains how such a ban is a direct attack on free speech. As we all know, Social Media Sites are an amazing platform to reach out to large numbers of people and in Turkey it was being used to expose the government and as a platform for citizens to openly speak about the ongoing corruption in the government.
Twitters response to the ban leads me to the question – who really has control of the Internet? Twitter responded by tweeting “We stand with our users in Turkey who rely on Twitter as a vital communications platform. We hope to have full access returned soon.” Twitter users in Turkey also did not allow Erdogan to stop them and the number of tweets sent after the ban were about 140 percent over the normal levels.
So the question is who has the power to ban or not ban something on the Internet? Did Twitter overstep their boundaries by disregarding a government and giving users in Turkey access to Twitter? Did Prime Minster Erdogan overstep his boundaries by trying to take away Turkey’s access to a Free Speech platform? I think it is a hard discussion to have. Prime Minister Erdogan was obviously taking away access to Twitter to help save himself and his government and was not thinking about the good of the Turkish citizens whereas Twitter was. So, in this instance I think the approach that Twitter took was appropriate and just. But I think it is important to ask if a company on the Internet has the power to override a government’s request and vice versa. The Internet and Social Media Sites have become so powerful and such an integral part of people’s lives that it is important to discuss who does have control. People will always use the Internet and sites like Twitter and Facebook for controversial topics like exposing corruption in governments so it is important for their to be guidelines to the Internet regarding control of it. Freedom of Speech must always be preserved and with that so must the power of the people to use the Internet as a place to express that right.
Image and Featured Image courtesy of Flickr user DonkeyHotey.