The Slatest

Turkey Is Now Arresting People For Using Twitter to Spread “Untrue Information”

A Turkish art group preforms in support of protestors at Taksim Square onJune 5, 2013 in Istanbul, Turkey

Photo by Uriel Sinai/Getty Images

As my colleague Will Oremus wrote about earlier this week, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has made no secret of how he feels about the use of Twitter. “Now we have a menace that is called Twitter,” Erdoğan said on Monday, day four of the mass protests that are now in their sixth day. “The best example of lies can be found there. To me, social media is the worst menace to society.”

At the time of those remarks, the Turkish government appeared to have no immediate plans to combat this menace/curse/scourge—despite scattered reports of Internet outages, the tweets continued to roll in, along with the Facebook posts, Instagram pics, and Vine videos. That may have changed Wednesday, via the Associated Press:

Turkey’s state-run news agency says police have detained 25 people for “spreading untrue information” on social media and provoking protests. The Anadolu Agency says Wednesday the people were detained in the city of Izmir for allegedly “inciting the people to enmity and hate.” It said police were still looking for 13 others.

No one seems to have any idea exactly which tweets in question landed the offending users in jail—something that only highlights the fact that Turkey’s main media outlets have been noticeably slow to give the protests the coverage they deserve (which, in turn, has left many Turks relying on the social media site for their updates). Regardless, the arrest of a couple dozen Twitter users is unlikely to deter the thousands of others using the social media site to voice their displeausre with Erdoğan any more than the several thousands of arrests on the streets is going to deter the mass demonstrations that are now occuring across Turkey.

Elsewhere in Slate: What the Heck Is Happening in Turkey? A FAQ for the Rest of Us.