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Dark Net Traffic Spikes in Turkey as its Twitter Ban Deepens

Since the government cracked down on Twitter last week, deep web traffic has jumped 64 percent.
Last year's protests, which helped precipitate the social media crackdown. Image: Wikimedia

After the Turkish government's initial attempt to "eradicate" Twitter was laughed away—use of the social network grew 138% after the ban was instated—Prime Minister Erdogan decided to double down. Instead of just ordering Turkey's internet service providers to block Twitter by changing the Domain Name Service, it has now commanded ISPs to block the IP addresses assigned to Twitter.

"This move essentially erases Twitter from the Internet within Turkey," Ars Technica explains, "at least to those people who don’t have access to SMS messaging, a foreign virtual private network or Web proxy service, or the Tor anonymizing network." So, Turks are making sure they're getting that access. Apps like HotSpot Shield and Tunnelbear that allow users to log on to out-of-state internet, are the most-downloaded in Turkey. And tens of thousands are embracing the dark web, too—ever since the ban was announced, there's been a boom in deep web usage.

The most popular dark web portal is Tor, and the number of users directly accessing the network jumped from 25,000 per day below the ban to well over 41,000 today, and the climb shows no sign of slowing. The numbers aren't staggering, but it's impressive growth: 64 percent in a matter of days.

The dark web is still best known for harboring hubs like the Silk Road; online drug bazaars and marketplaces for other illicit goods. But its proponents argued that it has less ambiguously beneficial and more revolutionary uses, too—like offering anonymous internet access to citizens' whose social media use has been banned by an autocratic regime. If Tor takes off in Turkey, it could become a more popular tool for organizers looking to fly below the radar in other internet-oppressed nations, too.