Ferhat Yaşar / DUVAR

A report prepared by the Freedom of Expression Association in Turkey has revealed the extent of internet censorship in the country, as the debate over President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s remarks on shutting or controlling social media platforms is ongoing.

The report prepared by Prof. Yaman Akdeniz from Istanbul’s Bilgi University said that access to a total of 408,494 web sites were blocked in 2019.

“One morning you wake up and access to Wikipedia is blocked. The next morning, the same happens to OdaTV, Independent Turkish,” Akdeniz said, referring to news websites that suffered from an access ban.

“We wanted to show the public the unseen part of the iceberg when we were preparing this report. The current order in Turkey is oppressive and restrictive,” he added.

Saying that the access bans can last for years, Akdeniz noted that the main aim of the government is to silence opposition.

“In addition to censorship, investigations are launched into hundreds of people and indictments are prepared. The number of those detained or arrested over their social media posts are increasing day-by-day. The pressure on the freedom of expression, internet and free press will continue to increase,” he said.

According to the report, access to 130,000 URLs, 7,000 Twitter accounts, 40,000 tweets, 10,000 YouTube videos and 6,200 Facebook contents were banned last year.

The report also said that access to 61,049 domain names were banned, with 42,145 of those banned by the Information and Communication Technologies Authority (BTK) head.

Access to a total of 5,599 news website URLs were banned, the report said, adding that 3,528 of those were taken off air.

The news website that suffered from the highest number of access bans was Hürriyet with 336 stories. It took 318 of those off air following the bans.

Haberler.com is the second one on the list with 226 stories, Sabah with 222, Milliyet with 198 and T24 with 186 stories.

As a result, the year became the one that the highest number of news stories getting taken off air with 3,528 in total.