The founder of Wikipedia, Jimmy Wales, has criticized Twitter’s recent move to block certain content in Turkey just before the country’s presidential election. Wales revealed that his organization had faced similar demands from Turkey in the past and had spent two and a half years in court to resist them. He emphasized the need for the tech sector to unite in defending free access to information.
Elon Musk, the owner of Twitter, claimed that Turkey had issued a threat to block the entire platform. In 2014, Turkish President Recep Erdogan carried out this threat and sought to “wipe out” the social network after it was used to share corruption allegations against his administration.
Additionally, Wikipedia faced a ban in Turkey for nearly three years when it refused to remove articles critical of the government.
The outcome of Turkey’s election remains undecided as no clear winner emerged from the recent voting, necessitating a run-off later this month. In response to a court order issued by the Turkish government, Twitter disclosed that it had blocked four accounts and 409 tweets. However, the company affirmed its intent to challenge the order in court, voicing its objections. While the blocked content remains accessible outside of Turkey, Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia, criticized Twitter’s decision and urged the platform to stand against censorship.
Wales emphasized Wikipedia’s steadfast commitment to resisting censorship demands, citing past instances where the online encyclopedia refused to yield. He expressed concern that governments, motivated by political advantage, would continue their attempts to control and silence online speech. Wales called on the industry to collectively reject such restrictions, advocating for an open and free internet that fosters the exchange of ideas and knowledge.
Elon Musk, who describes himself as a staunch advocate of free speech, has consistently emphasized the importance of providing individuals with a platform to express their views. Meanwhile, Twitter stated that the Turkish government had claimed it was the only social network not complying with court orders, although this assertion has not been independently verified by the BBC. While Wikipedia and Twitter differ in their services, Wales highlighted the absence of an interactive comment feature on Wikipedia, making moderation less complex compared to platforms like Twitter.