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What websites and online services are blocked in Turkey - Facebook, Wikipedia and more

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Turkey might be a beautiful, historic destination for tourists. But the freedom its crystal clear blue waters promise, unfortunately isn't something that carries over into the country's virtual world. In fact the Turkish government has blocked access to lots of sites and online services over the years, including Facebook and Wikipedia. When this happens, a virtual private network – VPN – can come into its own. 

This is a service that can help you get around blocked access to online destinations, so you can enjoy all the online freedoms you perhaps take for granted at home - even when using the otherwise restrictive connections of Turkey.

So what sites are blocked in the country and why? And exactly which Turkey VPN should you choose? We have the information you seek right here.

  • See also: ensure quick connection with the best fast VPN providers

Why does Turkey restrict access to so many services?

When it comes to social media censorship, Turkey is one of the world leaders. That means access to the likes of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Wikipedia has previously been blocked inside the country. This happens intermittently, especially in times of political unrest.

For example, in 2019, Turkey blocked access to 408,000 sites, 40,000 tweets, 10,000 YouTube videos and 6,200 Facebook shares, according to online rights activist Sevket Uyanik.

The blocking is part of the country's revision of the Internet Act of 2007, which it took further in February 2014. This meant the Turkish government passed an omnibus law that further impacted internet freedoms. As a result the country is now classed by the Freedom House index as "Not Free".

The reason behind these restrictive laws? The country says it's trying to fight internet crime and determine liability. In 2020 the government announced plans to push this even further with a new law that plans to force social media companies like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube to comply to any demands the government makes. It wouldn't be enormously surprising to see blanket bans in the future (a bit like in China).

Which services are banned in Turkey?

Over the years, Turkey has blocked 130+ social media and news sites, including one of the country's few remaining independent news sites, Bianet.org. Lots of individual stories have also been blocked on sites, so even if the site is accessible it might not have the truth laid out as clearly as intended.

As mentioned before all the big social media platforms have been blocked at some point, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Periscope plus Google services. You could also struggle to access the likes of Google Docs, Translate, Books, Analytics or Tools.

Even the likes of Blogspot and WordPress have been blocked. Along with big name darker web sites like YouPorn, The Pirate Bay and Megaupload. Sites including Deezer and IMDB have even been blocked, as well as video sharing sites Metacafe and Vimeo.

Sites that have been subject to blocking or restrictions in Turkey include:

  • BlogSpot
  • Deezer
  • Dropbox
  • Facebook (and Messenger)
  • Google Apps (e.g. Docs, Drive, Translate etc)
  • IMDB
  • Instagram
  • Metacafe
  • OneDrive
  • Periscope
  • Twitter
  • Wikipedia
  • WikiLeaks
  • WhatsApp
  • WordPress
  • YouTube
  • Vimeo

Of course this list will be in flux as changes occur with blocking and, more specifically, as individual sub URLs on sites get blocked. So if you want to check if a certain story or site is active there are websites sites available which helps to facilitate this. 

How can VPN technology help circumvent internet censorship?

A virtual private network will help you stay free online by relaying your signal through a server, or multiple servers, which makes you appear somewhere you're not. Thus access is yours as it would be in that country.

While using a VPN is legal in Turkey at the time of writing, you can still break the law when using that VPN - for example, by accessing content like the blocked sites listed above when in Turkey. But since your location and identity are hidden by a VPN, the risk taken here should be lower. Just be warned, there is still a risk being taken.

Make sure you download and install your VPN before you get to Turkey, just in case there are any issues with installation when out there. Yes it's legal and there shouldn't be, but better to play it safe. 

We recommend using a tried-and-tested VPN such as ExpressVPN or NordVPN. These providers have consistently proved that they can beat any restrictions, worldwide and offer great customer service if you're struggling. While using a free VPN is likely to lead to frustration thanks to their restricted usage and ad-heavy UX, and we don’t recommend it.  

Which websites and online services are banned in Turkey?

Lots of western websites and social media services have been banned in Turkey. That's why it's important to have a way around such restrictions if you want to remain free while inside the country. This is where a VPN will serve you well to gain access as you would normally.

To help you choose the right provider, we have listed the top VPNs for Turkey in our dedicated guide.  It will help you choose a reliable provider so that you can browse Facebook or YouTube – regardless of the political situation in Turkey at the time – as you would freely anywhere else in the world that offers a free internet.

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Luke Edwards

Luke is a freelance writer and editor with over two decades of experience covering tech, science and health. Among many others he writes across Future titles covering health tech, software and apps, VPNs, TV, audio, smart home, antivirus, broadband, smartphones, cars and plenty more. He also likes to climb mountains, swim outside and contort his body into silly positions while breathing as calmly as possible.