Watching the Attempted Turkish Coup Unfold on Twitter

0 Posted by - 16th July 2016 - Technology

This is a developing story and will be updated as information comes in.

First came the images of bridges blocked by Turkish military. Soldiers and trucks lined both byways over the Bosphorus in Istanbul. On a Friday afternoon in America, Twitter exploded with speculation that something very big was happening across the world in Turkey. Newspapers had no reports. TV stations were mum. It was only Twitter, as it so often is during breaking news, that let the world know that military tanks were rolling down the street and jets were flying low over cities.

And so we watched. And waited.

People on the ground had no idea what was happening. Soldiers reportedly told them to go home, “there is curfew.”

F16s flew incredibly low in Ankara, the country’s capital.

Twitter went into speculation mode. People guessed it was a coup against President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who has recently pushed for more constitutional power. Others cautioned that there was no proof it was a coup. It could be activity in response to terrorist threats, as Turkey has been hit recently by multiple attacks, including an explosion at the Instanbul airport on June 28 that killed 45 people.

Inevitably, reports started coming in that Twitter and Facebook were being blocked in the country.

And YouTube apparently went offline there, too.

Throttling social media is nothing new for Turkey under President Erdogan, which has censored journalists, and social media many times in recent years.

TV news couldn’t possibly keep up with social media.

Then it started to sound more and more like a coup.

Writer Zeynep Trufekci was in an airplane about to leave Turkey when the news started coming in. Just after 4, she tweeted that the Turkish Prime Minister was on TV calling it an “insurgency.”

At that point, it was clear a coup was underway, but the question remained: were the soldiers blocking bridges in Instanbul part of the coup, or the response to the coup? Who exactly was trying to overthrow the government?

The Mayor of Ankara urged everyone into the streets.

Despite attempts to block social media, people managed to Periscope.

Video showed a fire on the ground in Ankara.

On social media, all we could do was watch.

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