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Turkey details grounds for blocking Wikipedia

Turkey's telecommunications authority has said that access to Wikipedia is being barred due to entries alleging the country supports terrorism. It was not clear which specific posts had run afoul of Turkish rules.

Symbolbild Wikipedia (picture alliance/empics/P. Byrne)

Authorities in Turkey offered up an explanation on Sunday for suddenly barring access to the popular online encyclopedia Wikipedia, saying it was over certain entries that hadn't been removed from the site.

"Despite all the efforts, the content that falsely claims Turkey's support for terrorist organizations was not removed from Wikipedia," Turkey's telecommunications authority stated in a tweet.

The authority said the content was "not allowed to be edited with accurate information" and that it is not possible to selectively block content on Wikipedia. The entire platform was therefore blocked in Turkey.

The statement added that "Wikipedia editors must do what is necessary" regarding the content.

Offending posts still unclear

The telecommunications authority statement did not elaborate on which specific entries had violated Turkish rules.

Wikipedia posts in English on Turkey and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan still contain references to criticism about the country's recent constitutional referendum which would expand Erdogan's powers.

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On Saturday, Turkey's private NTV television network, which has been criticized for censoring anti-government content, said the block was put in place over entries "placing Turkey on the same level as the 'Islamic State'" despite requests to remove the content.

Dating shows banned

Users across the country were shocked on Saturday when they could no longer access the website from within Turkey without using a virtual private network (VPN). TurkeyBlocks, a censorship monitoring group, confirmed that the ban on the site went into effect around 8 a.m. (0500 GMT).

The site contains encyclopedia-like entries on a broad spectrum of topics written in several languages. Anyone can register and propose changes, but the changes can be undone by others.

Turkey also issued a decree on Saturday imposing a ban on popular dating programs on Turkish television channels.

The Turkish government has blocked thousands of websites and has placed restrictions on social media platforms, including YouTube and Twitter. Authorities in Turkey are also able to block specific Twitter accounts.

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