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You may have seen the recent news that Turkey is in turmoil following a sit-in by activists to protect one of Istanbul’s last public parks from being demolished.
The peaceful sit-in in front of Gezi Park near Istanbul’s Taksim Square escalated to a violent confrontation between the police and protesters. The police used tear gas, pepper spray, rubber bullets and water cannons to disperse the crowd, while protesters responded by setting up barricades and throwing bottles. According to the Turkish Medical Association, 3,195 people were injured, 26 were in serious or critical condition, and there was one death.
During and after the protest, Turkish citizens publicized their experiences and shared eye-witness mages via Twitter, Facebook and other social media channels. In reaction, Turkey’s Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, called social media (specifically referring to Twitter) “The Worst Menace to Society”.
For a variety of reasons– reports of the government censoring Twitter and Facebook, the need to protect their privacy or to access US and EU servers to route around local internet slowdowns, Turkish mobile internet users turned to VPN software such as Hotspot Shield in record numbers. Normally, Hotspot Shield gets about 10,000 new users in Turkey on an average day – but we saw a tenfold increase on Saturday. During the weekend of the protest, as word spread, more than 120,000 people in Turkey downloaded Hotspot Shield, including many on their mobile devices. As a result, Hotspot Shield briefly jumped to the #1 most downloaded iPhone app in Turkey. We were pleased to learn that our product was used to help support the voice of the people.
On behalf of Hotspot Shield, we would like to thank everyone who uses Hotspot Shield to share information around the world. Please continue to tell your family and friends to use Hotspot Shield to help spread democracy and internet freedom!
For more coverage on Hotspot Shield and the Turkey protest, check out the articles below: