Twitter beyond government control thanks to SMS and VPNs

Tom Clarke

Tom Clarke

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Turkish Twitter users have once again illustrated the futility of governmental bans on the service, by using tools like SMS and VPNs to dodge official controls. In a tweet from Twitter’s Policy account, the social network offered users a way to send updates via SMS. In fact, since the ban was introduced, 2.5 million tweets have been posted from Turkey.

Twitter has a history of assisting users in countries where authorities have banned access to its service. It has previously made similar information available to citizens in Egypt and Tunisia.

Another popular way around bans of this type is using VPNs. VPNs (short for Virtual Private Networks) work by rerouting a smartphone or PC user’s internet traffic through another set of servers. Using a VPN makes it very difficult for government filters to see exactly which web pages or services a user is accessing. It’s very difficult, but not impossible.

By far the most popular VPN service on Softonic is Hotspot Shield, currently available on Windows, iPhone and iPad, and Android devices. Anchorfree, the company behind Hotspot Shield has reported that VPN use increases in areas of ‘civil strife’. It’s important to remember, however, that no technical solution is 100% reliable when it comes to privacy and security.

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