The ZenMate Effect

Social Networks are becoming more and more important to everyone. They have grown into one of the key factors in opinion making in modern society. This also makes them vulnerable to manipulation - A geo-political Review of our unique plugin.

zenmate effect social media

The latest censorship episode in Turkey started last Thursday, but since then has escalated dramatically. In a fit of totalitarian anger, the Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has virtually blocked all Twitter access in Turkey ten days ahead of the general election, in a move that has already enraged the nation and resulted in a powerful public outcry.

"We'll dig up Twitter - all of them - from the roots," raged Erdogan just before blocking Twitter, "They’ll see the power of the Republic of Turkey”. But Erdogan’s wrath is growing and the saga of censorship will probably continue with YouTube, as the WSJ reports: “Google Inc. has declined Turkish government requests to remove YouTube videos alleging government corruption… Google's refusal to remove videos raises the specter that Turkey could move to block access to YouTube within the country, after blocking the microblogging service Twitter Inc. late Thursday night. Both sites have been central conduits for allegations of corruption against Mr. Erdogan's government and faced public threats of a blackout by Mr. Erdogan”.

How to turn things Around

However Erdogan and his will doers did not take into account the ability of Turkish users to outwit the system, using ZenMate as their tool to circumvent the blockade. Moments after Twitter was blocked, our ZenMate download rate climbed to a whopping ~2300% of normal rate. In the first 12 hours since the ban, we had 25,000 new registered users of ZenMate. And all together, over the weekend, we had ~180.000 installations by Turkish users, out of the 10 million Twitter users coming out of Turkey.

Eyüp bahçevan, a Turkish user, wrote: “I'm now enjoying 100% secure internet with access to ALL webpages using zenmate. Did I mention it's free?“. "@ZenMate thanks for your help, entrance to twitter in turkey”, wrote Erbay Metin, a retired social democrat from Istanbul. All and all, Zenmate was getting hundreds of tweets per hour over the weekend and by Monday more than 22,500 tweets mentioned the plugin.

History repeating Itself

It’s not a first for ZenMate. These kinds of thing have happened to us in the past. Just recently, we experienced the “ZenMate effect” taking place in Ukraine. In the weeks leading to the people protest and the toppling of President Viktor Yanukovych, Zenmate users in the country grew by ~13,000 over night. Before that, we saw the same happening in Venezuela when in February Venezuela used widespread censorship of social networking sites during anti-government protests.

The politics of silencing through internet censorship is posing many other great challenges for freedom of speech all over the world. The ‘Golden Shield Project’, known as the Great Firewall of China is a content blocking system aimed to Censure content including Government Critics, Facebook, ‘Obscenity’, Pro-Tibet sites, subversive sites, blogs, news sources not controlled by the Chinese government and many others expressions of free speech.

A political Dimension

At the same time, massive government surveillance programs are exposed in the west. The NSA/PRISM Scandals that were Revealed by Edward Snowden in 2013, showed the collection of millions of phone numbers from Verizon and a document claiming ‘direct access’ to data held by Google, Facebook, Apple and other large internet companies, with no disclosure of these powers to the public. Even Chancellor Angela Merkel was shocked to find out that the US had bugged her private mobile phone.
Earlier this week, the senior lawyer for the National Security Agency Rajesh De, stated that US technology companies were fully aware of the surveillance agency’s widespread collection of data. Companies like Yahoo and Google provided ‘full assistance’ in collection of data. Mainly in the so called: “upstream” collection of communications moving across the internet.

This growing body of events and evidence corresponds to growing worries of internet users. Although our product does not prevent the leaking of data by 3rd parties that the user has entered voluntarily, these events led to a generally increased public awareness and need for online privacy and security. We are one of the tools that a user should definately utilize to protect their online privacy and security. According to Research from ComRes, out of 10,354 people interviewed living in nine different countries (Brazil, United Kingdom, Germany, France, Spain, India, Japan, South Korea and Australia), 79% expressed their worries about their privacy on the Internet. Hopefully Someday, most if not all, will be ZenMate users so we can be a support in their quest for more online privacy and online freedom of speech.

Are you worried about your privacy as well?