When Turkish Prime Minster Tayyip Erdogan vowed to "wipe out" Twitter on Thursday, he set himself up for a showdown with the company, the international community, and crucially -- with Turkey's social media savvy population.
Erdogan declared his war on Twitter during an election rally on Thursday, saying he would wipe out the service and did not care what the international community had to say about it. "Twitter, mwitter!," Erdogan added gleefully (The phrase roughly translates to "Twitter, schmitter!").
The Turkish prime minister was drumming up support ahead of local elections on March 30 and a potential presidential run later this year. But Erdogan has been dogged by corruption scandals and popular protests against his government and the strongman had often blamed social media for aggravating tension.
Just hours after Erdogan's comments, at midnight on Thursday, Turkish telecoms watchdog BTK announced Twitter had gone down citing court orders. Shortly after, accessing Twitter.com in Turkey returned a page describing the site's removal.
— grasswire (@grasswire) March 20, 2014
A mere three hours later, however, more tweets went out from the country than on a regular day before the ban -- according to Turkish data analysis company Gonzo Insight 2. 5 million to be precise, or 17,000 per minute.
In an eruption of outrage, Turkey's Twitter ban became the top trending topic early Friday.
— Burak Sonmez (@burkilemos) March 21, 2014
— Occupy Wall Street (@OccupyWallStNYC) March 21, 2014
Twitter's policy team sent out a tweet with instructions on circumventing the ban by using SMS, retweeted by Twitter founder Jack Dorsey.
Turkish users: you can send Tweets using SMS. Avea and Vodafone text START to 2444. Turkcell text START to 2555.
— Policy (@policy) March 20, 2014
Turkish tweeps got even more creative, circulating instructions on how to use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to get around the ban. One Twitter user posted a photo of a Turkish cellphone full of VPN apps.
a list of apps on an average turkish phone. in case. pic.twitter.com/qOkafKV5Sy
— Engin Onder (@enginonder) March 20, 2014
Another route around the Twitter ban, changing your Domain Name System (DNS) server, spread like wildfire.
— Eduardo Oliveira (@eduoliveira98) March 21, 2014
For those in Turkey already locked out of the site, the instructions have been widely posted where they can be seen -- on the streets.
Twitter is blocked in Turkey. On the streets of Istanbul, the action against censorship is graffiti DNS addresses. pic.twitter.com/XcsfN7lJvS
— Utku Can (@utku) March 21, 2014
— Abdelrahman Ayyash (@3yyash) March 21, 2014
Turkey's Deputy Premier Bulent Arinc, who is known to have had frequent fall-outs with the prime minister, went on tweeting as normal on Friday with an innocuous post about his schedule.
Bugün Manisa'da olacağız...
— Bülent Arınç (@bulent_arinc) March 21, 2014
Meanwhile, Turkish President Abdullah Gul flouted the ban and took to... Twitter.. to express his discontent. "One cannot approve of the complete closure of social media platforms," he posted on his official account.
Sosyal medya platformlarının tamamen kapatılması tasvip edilemez.
— Abdullah Gül (@cbabdullahgul) March 21, 2014
The president had earlier spoken out against Erdogan's previous clampdown on web freedoms, although some analysts note that Gul has not blocked Erdogan's measures and accuse the pair of playing a good cop, bad cop routine.
Turkey's angry Twitter users responded to Erdogan's challenge in force on Friday, mercilessly mocking the prime minister on the social network.
Twitter is incredibly popular in the country. According to Gonzo Insight data, 10 million tweets are posted each day from the country on average , a figure that may yet be dwarfed by the Twitter explosion on Friday. Pew's Conrad Hackett noted that a higher proportion of Turkey's internet users use social media than in the U.S.
Take a look at some of the best tweets in the slideshow below.