Twitter Sees a Rise in the Global Government Requests to Remove Unlawful Content


Twitter reported on Wednesday that the company saw a rise in the government requests from different countries to remove all the inappropriate posts in the first half of 2016.

According to the company’s latest bi-annual transparency report, the requests for removal of content went up by 13 percent, with Russia and Turkey sending in the largest request volumes. These requests have led Twitter to historically get rid of a lot of content. Twitter reported that typically the concerned requests had content which was mostly deemed as illegal by the respective local law bodies. However, the report did not give details about the efforts that will put by the company in preventing the extremists from using Twitter as a social platform to spread violence and other inappropriate messages, as this could have been another factor for the requests.


Reports from Around the World Making Requests to Twitter

Twitter had received an overall 4,434 requests for removal of content from the police agencies or governments during the first half of 2016. According to a report, there were also an additional 761 orders from the court. Twitter said that a total of 20,594 accounts have been targeted and no action has been taken on 15,195 of them.

The report also added that the officials in Turkey had made 2,493 requests, while the Russian officials made 1,601 requests. The requests had poured in from 37 countries, with the United States making 98 requests. However, only one request was granted. Japan ranked second when it came to requesting information with 732 requests out of the total 5.676 requests. Britain, Turkey, and France made it to the top five countries that have been requesting for Twitter information. Twitter saw a sudden outburst of requests from Belgium reporting that the rise might be related to the unfortunate extremist attacks that happened in early 2016.

Requests from the United States Government and Security Agencies

The United States topped the charts when it came to making requests to the government asking for information regarding the Twitter accounts. It made a total of 2,520 requests, with almost 82 percent of the cases being given at least some information of what it had asked for. The report noted that as Twitter is a San Francisco, California-based company, a majority of the government requests that have been received for account information from around the world are from the United States. The Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Attorney’s Office of New York County District, and the Secret Service were the top requesters of Twitter account information in the US.

Last week, the Chief of the US National Security Agency (NSA) said that he was puzzled by Twitter’s decision to block the US intelligence agency from accessing the data which could possibly be of help in preventing any violent attack plots. The Director Admiral of NSA made the comments at a senatorial meeting in response to Senator John McCain’s criticism for Twitter as it had refused to provide access to Dataminr, a real-time analytics service.

Removal requests Twitter Report

The media reports claim that since Twitter owns a stake at Dataminr, it did not want to appear being very closely associated with the US intelligence agencies. However, Twitter had responded by saying that it allows businesses and governments to use the data as long as it is not used for surveillance purposes. Twitter also released a statement saying that it has not authorized Dataminr or any third-party for that matter to sell its data to the government or to any intelligence agency for scrutiny purposes, due to privacy concerns.

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