Turkish protesters make innovative use of technology

Turkish anti-government protesters are making innovative use of technology to stay ahead of the authorities

Turkish anti-government protesters are making innovative use of technology to stay ahead of the authorities, using a mix of social media services accessed through public and private networks.

Pressure groups have criticised the government repeatedly for allegedly blocking or censoring Twitter and Facebook content in the months leading up to the latest protests.

Activists are using private groups on services such as Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr, along with private messaging apps, to share vital information such as the location of makeshift clinics, and using services such as Ustream to monitor protests.

Although more public social networking channels such as Twitter and Tumblr are being monitored by the Turkish authorities, protesters are using these to denounce the government and post photographs of alleged police brutality, according to the Telegraph.

The use of virtual private networks (VPNs), which hide a user's location and allow them to access the internet undetected, has also seen a sharp increase, the paper reported.

At the weekend, more than 120,000 people in Turkey reportedly downloaded Hotspot Shield, a free mobile app that provides a VPN connection.

Protesters are also using encryption to hide connections to the outside world and evade detection by the authorities.

They are also downloading apps such as Zello, which works like a walkie-talkie, so they can record events and avoid surveillance, according to the Guardian.

Hacktivist collective Anonymous has also joined the protests with the launch of #opturkey, saying it would “attack every internet and communications asset of the Turkish government".

So far, Anonymous is reported to have brought down the personal website of the Turkish President Abdullah Gul and the country’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).

Innovative use of technology and social media also played a significant role in co-ordinating anti-government protests in Tunisia and Egypt.

Image: iStockphoto/Thinkstock

Read more on Privacy and data protection