Twitter has allegedly blocked a popular journalist’s posts in Turkey at the request of the country’s government.
Mahir Zeynalov, who writes for the Huffington Post and Al Arabiya, announced Twitter’s decision earlier today, claiming, “Twitter told me that it will block my account at the request of Turkey for ‘instigating terrorism,’ putting an end to my ~7-year reporting.”
“This is a farewell message to my followers in Turkey,” he continued. “Love it or loathe it, I always believed in what I wrote and will continue to do so.”
Zeynalov added that another one of his accounts, which only posted in Turkish, was also blocked in Turkey last month by Twitter.
Zeynalov frequently writes critical columns about Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Recent headlines of his have included “Trump, Erdogan, and Post-Truth Politics”, “The Survival of Erdogan Inc.”, and “Meet Turkish Journalist Who Lost Custody Of Kids Over Critical Reporting”.
Previous columns written for the Huffington Post by Zeynalov also include “US Attorney Becomes Rock Star In Turkey For Arresting Erdogan’s Partner”, “Turkey’s Media Faces Imminent Crackdown”, “Another Victim of Erdogan’s Wrath”, “Change Turkey’s Electoral System”, “For US, Turkish Leaders Are Not Reliable Friends”, and “For Turkish Media, It Is All About Carrots and Sticks”.
The majority of Zeynalov’s articles for Al Arabiya have also been critical of Erdogan, and include headlines critical of Turkey’s treatment of women, other countries, and the media.
After hearing the news of Twitter’s decision to block Zeynalov’s posts in Turkey, Canadian journalist Paul Wells announced his departure from the platform.
“I just deactivated my Twitter account, after that company decided to block tweets by the Azerbaijani-Turkish journalist Mahir Zeynalov in Turkey,” announced Wells on his Facebook page.
Twitter has come under increasing criticism this year for refusing to address the torrents of racist, harassing, anti-immigrant, Islamophobic, anti-Semitic abuse perpetrated by countless anonymous account-holders against countless others. Twitter has protested, with at least some justification, that it must be sensitive to free-speech concerns.
But then along comes a guy who does nothing but document the waves of assaults by the Turkish government against its own citizenry — thousands of arrests, mass firings, lifelong bans against further employment, all without anything resembling Western standards of fair trial. And Twitter blocks him in Turkey at the first request from the Erdogan regime.
I can’t endorse this double standard. I was spending too much time on Twitter anyway. Facebook will be a poor substitute, as I aim to try to keep this mostly a personal account to stay in touch with actual friends. But there it is.